Thursday, October 10, 2013

People 101 : : Day 10 : : Guilt-Trip Pastors

When it comes to most of the men who've pastored my family since I was a child,  I'd say they were an exceptional lot.

Not perfect.

But over time, these spiritual leaders proved to have pastoral hearts, filled with tenderness, integrity, godliness, character, and wisdom, no matter what their personality or age happened to be.  My spiritual life has grown because of solid teaching  ... and lifestyles that were in alignment with what was preached behind the pulpit.

And yet my head isn't in the sand.  I've listened to a number of stories along the way and watched more than a few tragic sagas unfold, with unchecked, out of control behavior that left a trail of confused, broken, disillusioned souls in its wake.  My heart has been broken by angry, ego-fueled manipulation, control, and spiritual abuse in all its myriad forms by ministry leaders across the board.

No pun intended.

When it comes to pastors wielding the guilt trip, Sarah Young's with me on this.  She reflects on what Jesus might say if He was here.  {Which He is, by the presence of the Spirit.}

'Some pastors try to whip their people into action with guilt-inducing sermons.  This procedure can drive many people to work harder, but the end does not justify the means.  Guilt-evoking messages can undermine the very foundation of grace in a believer's heart.  A pastor may feel successful when his people are doing more, but I look at their hearts.  I grieve when I see grace eroding, with weeds of anxious works creeping in.  I want you to relax in the assurance of My perfect Love.  The law of My Spirit of Life has freed you from the law of sin and death.'

Be assured, my friend, that there's a big difference between clear conviction from the Holy Spirit, and a generalized feeling of guilt that's like a huge wet blanket, smothering you, covering your soul with feelings of worthlessness, powerlessness, and inertia.

May you have great discernment to know one from the other.  May you choose your shepherd and your church family with great care and wisdom.  And know how to best respond if guilt is presented as a major player in your faith.

'It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery {Galatians 5:1}.

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  1. This hits a little too close to home for me, Linda. I better not say here in this public space just why, but it's something I covet your prayers in for me and my hubby. Thanks so much for your insightful writing and tender heart!

    1. Oh, I hear you, honey! Count on my prayer support, ok?

  2. Powerful, bold words, these -- shining forth Truth and washed in waves of Peace, as in your beautiful photograph. Thank you, Linda.

    "Guilt-evoking messages can undermine the very foundation of grace in a believer's heart." Yes, this is grievous. Hard to detect happening, hard to respond to and recover from, especially in a church setting. Sadly, these same messages seem to pervade relationships more generally.

    Praying for that discernment...

    1. Oh yes ... how we need discernment to see past the bells and whistles, past the posturing and maneuvering, to spy the truth sometimes buried deep.

  3. Hi Linda! This is such a good point, and needs to be pointed out more often. Just because a person is a pastor or leader, doesn't mean they aren't human. We all need to be pastored by someone who is Christ-like, but there is only one Christ, and no one else is perfect.

    It helps to listen and discern with attention when our leaders speak. They might be having a bad day!
    Great theme today.

    1. Yes, yes, Ceil ... no one has arrived yet, have they! Grace, grace ....


  4. Oh such a great post! We so believe in the Grace message. Romans 8-1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!!!!

    1. Grace, grace, unmerited favor. Yes, this magnificent gift is ours. Thank You, Jesus, for Your astounding sacrifice that makes this rich freedom possible!


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