I can honestly say that a lot of my pastoral education was focused upon how to influence, manipulate, and control people. Ultimately, in my opinion, I was trained in how to clandestinely abuse people.
This does sound harsh. And I suppose it is. But I don’t mean to be mean. It’s a basic human impulse to control our environment, and that includes the people in it. It’s in our blood. It is natural. It is instinct. And I strongly believe, whether we like it or not, that this instinct prevails in community contexts, including the church. Or, especially the church.
The cartoon is a bit misleading therefore. Pastors can not only be skilled or even gifted in abuse, but most don’t realize they’re doing it. Controlling people for the noble purposes is innate. Our motives feel right, and this is validated because it works. We can actually achieve our goals.
So I think it’s safe to conclude that both leaders and followers, that is, whole church communities, are engaged in an implicit agreement to be controlled and even abused.
It takes incredible insight and courage to break this paradigm and pattern.