Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Are You Covering For A Spiritual Abuser?

I recently came across a great post about an often overlooked aspect of spiritual abuse--I call it the enabler. Someone who, by turning a blind eye to the abuser, allows them to continue to perpetrate their abuse unchecked. I've reposted the whole article below.

Signs you may be covering for a pastor who abuses the flock spiritually:

*You've noticed a pattern of people leaving the fellowship, but don't ask your pastor about it and don't delve into the reasons behind the exits.

*You've seen your pastor act in retribution for slights or criticism by removing people from ministries, publicly or privately shaming them or refusing to listen to them.

*You excuse your pastor's wrong behavior: he's young, he doesn't understand the people who are unhappy, he has a little trouble relating to people, he'll grow out of it, I'm probably not seeing the whole picture, God will show him his weaknesses and he'll handle things better soon.

*You find yourself blaming victims. You justify harsh behavior by your pastor by focusing on the sins of those who are shamed or shunned or criticized or punished.

*You feel that to protect the name of Christ in your community you need to keep secret the alarming behavior by your pastor or leaders in the church.

*You feel it's your duty to think the best of your pastor, no matter what charges are brought against him, but you don't extend the same courtesy to those who feel they've been abused or harmed.

*You feel it's okay for your pastor to build up your church by cutting down other churches with "inferior" doctrines or practices, but it's not okay for anyone to question decisions by church leaders if it looks like criticism.

*You enjoy being flattered by your pastor and seek to please him often. You spend a lot of time in church flattering and being flattered.

*You fear being criticized by your pastor or having your special ministry taken away.

*You've seen your pastor flatter those he can use and then later turn on them.

*You would feel uncomfortable asking to see financial records of the church, and you just assume that they are being used in a godly manner.

*You feel constantly pressured to help more in church or to give more, or both.

*Going to church often seems like a burden, but you don't want anyone to know you feel that way.

*You have criticized other churches or individuals with your pastor.

*You like the feeling of being in the "inner circle," and you feel you have the pastor's confidence.

*You feel superior to Christians who don't witness as much as you, or who don't practice their faith as well as you, or who don't emphasize certain doctrines like you do.

*You feel that no one quite understands the scriptures, delivers sermons or reaches out to the weak and poor like your pastor does.

*You are exhausted.

If many of these items speak to you, it might be a good idea to evaluate what your role in your church really is. Are you a source of narcissistic supply for your pastor? Is your main role to make him look good? Do you equate making him look good with powerful ministry in your community? You can serve many years, believing you are doing good in your church by covering spiritual abuse for your leader, while really doing great harm. Check out the signs of spiritual abuse. If they look familiar, and you feel you may have had a hand in perpetuating it, all is not lost. You can recognize the harm and turn from it, just like with any other sin.


The Cult Next Door said...

Joe, Thank you so much for linking this post... In June I would like to post accounts of escaping spiritual abuse and the struggle it is to become a "normal" after leaving the situation...if you are interested in doing a guest post for the Cult Next Door e-mail me

Joe Blackmon said...

I'll be in touch. Thanks so much for the encouragement.