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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spiritual Abuse

A few years ago I went to an event here that was intended to encourage men in their walk with God.  One of the “draws” to this event was to be the testimony of a native of the city, who had some notoriety, and had recently come to Christ.  Toward the end of the meeting he mounted the stage and proceeded to share.  I have not talked to the man personally so I do not if he is actually a follower of Christ, but there was no evidence of that in what he shared.  The meeting was a disaster.  That was not his fault.
When we trophy young, famous Christians for the gain of our ministry or our reputation as a church, we are putting ourselves ahead of them.  It is abuse.
Last year I was speaking to a consultant friend who was counseling a man on staff with the Christian organization who had engaged my friend.  This individual has had a successful business career (by the way these details are altered) had become a Christian through the ministry and had shortly after sold his business and joined the staff of the organization.  He had virtually no ministry experience and relatively little growth in his Christian life.  He was placed in a leadership position by virtue of his success in the business world.  He called my friend late one night in despair over multiple challenges with his understanding of how the ministry is done and the difficulty that pressure was placing on his family.  He was failing.  It was not his fault.

The fault lies with the men who made the decisions to put the new believer on the stage and elevate the young Christian to leadership.  In fact these men were abused.  They were asked to perform for the benefit of the men who made the decisions.  In the first case to fill and event in the last case to trophy a successful business man in a high profile ministry position.  There was no thought given to whether these men were ready or the impact on their spiritual formation.  It was a bit like giving a 4 year old a chainsaw and telling him to cut down a tree.

Paul is really clear about this.  In 1 Timothy 3:6, he warns Timothy not to appoint new converts to positions of authority.  In 1 Timothy 5:22 he tells Timothy that if he places one in authority too soon he bears the guilt of the mess they make and the sins they commit.  It seems like more and more we in the Church are ignoring Paul.