Bullying From The Pulpit…

There was a long period in my life where the nickname “church girl” would suit me perfectly. Raised in church, became an almost fanatical Pentecostal young adult, and then by God’s mercy, translated to a well-balanced Christian woman.

On that journey, I had several opportunities of working behind the scenes as a choir leader, group leader, church worker, pastoral assistant staff and I believe those experiences were instrumental to my breaking free of the bounds that I almost didn’t realize held me.

Bullies exist in every walk of life. They’re in our homes, in schools and they’re in the workplace and they’re in church too! The thing is, the bullies in church are very good at cloaking this horrible act in spiritual hocus pocus.  It’s painful to watch so many Christians slowly get sucked into the vortex of charismatic pastors and leaders who are skilled at making followers who are so eager to please them, do what they want.

If you are a serving church worker or staff, you need to realize that a good number of these Pastors feed of your need for approval and validation. Like emotional predators, they smell your vulnerabilities and once a weak spot is located, they will pounce. Before you know it, you’re hooked under their thumb.

How do you spot a Bully Pastor?

If your Pastor’s sermons emphasizes how important church leaders are, how “it is not in your place” to question them and how you might be risking the wrath of God if you dare disobey their instructions and ask questions, you just might be dealing with a bully in pastoral disguise. When sermons about obeying instructions given by church leaders leave you with fear and make you rush to do their every bidding, you’re obviously in trouble.

There are churches where being a worker (which is a volunteer position by the way) means having the majority of your productive time and finances tied up in church activities.  Meetings where you are told you MUST not miss, (even if you have other commitments, you are told they are not as important as those meetings because it’s an “instruction” from the pastor), coerced financial contributions to projects even when you know you can’t afford it; If you’re in a church where that is your reality, then you are BEING bullied!

Are you allowed to have a different opinion? One of the easiest ways to spot a bully pastor is to look at his followers. When members cannot have a different opinion about life, politics and even relationships from the one fed them by their pastor, something is obviously wrong. It’s one thing to teach biblical principles; it’s another thing to turn your followers into zombies and clones of yourself.

Is your pastor the same person he is on the pulpit as the person you work with in the office? A lot of pastoral staff members are emotionally and verbally abused by the pastors they work with. There is a culture of silence in the church community and this is further perpetrated by these bullies who are one thing on the pulpit and another thing behind the scenes.  Indeed, pastors are human and like us, they have their own failings. But we must not be silent or intimidated into covering up when a pastor crosses the line; especially when he is unrepentant and unapologetic about it.  If you are a pastoral staff, you should respect your pastor and not FEAR him.  When staff members cower and cringe before their pastor, then something has gone very wrong. You should not have any reason to be intimidated by your pastor.

Does he call out his critics on the pulpit? I know a good number of pastors get criticized and some if not most have felt the need to address the issues on the pulpit during Sunday service. How this is done is another thing entirely. Calling out members who speak out against him and threatening spiritual damnation is a sure sign of bullying behavior.

Do you feel stalked on social media? This might sound improbable but I have actually lived the experience. A certain leading pastor of a church I used to attend had a habit of stalking member’s timelines to make sure they’re saying the ‘’right things’’ about the church and about the ‘supreme leader’. Ludicrous I know! He then comes into your DM (private message box) with some ‘spiritual advice’ designed to influence your opinion.

A church where emphasis put on serving the head pastor or General Overseer, is a church where bullying can thrive. Over emphasis on “submission to authority” and teaching that God speaks directly to the lead pastor about the vision for the church and everyone else on staff are there to help the lead pastor accomplish his vision is problematic.

What essentially happens is, if you disagree with the lead pastor, you are to submit to his authority and keep your mouth shut. The dangerous thing is, as this teaching continues, the pastor becomes like God. He is projected to be more spiritual than everyone else.

The same Holy Spirit that resides in your pastor is the same Holy Spirit that you have dwelling in you. It’s the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. (Romans 8:11)  As much as you respect your leaders, you must never think God loves them or listens to them more than you.  Let your need for validation and affection draw you closer to GOD. he is the only one who’s approval you need.

 

 

11 Replies to “Bullying From The Pulpit…”

  1. My opinion on this that while Fola may be true about what she has said, the core of the problems arises as a result many of us not taking time to understand the truth of God’s word and also its application. When this happens, then the people are bound to take whatever they are given, whether right or wrong. It’s like a student not adequately preparing or reading for an exams and yet wants to pass. He or she can copy or take whatever information that is given to him/her believing it’s true. It is only the Truth that sets free but when you do not know the truth, am afraid you’re not set free but still in bandage. Shalom!

  2. It’s quite unfortunate that some Christians do not have the mind of their own. They are virtually spoon-fed on every issue that concerns their lives. The reason is not farfetched really; it is simply because Christians have become so sheepishly docile and lazy to the point that beats imagination. They do not read the scriptures with an open mind to hear from God directly. They do not explore, research and even investigate information churned out and unleashed towards them. Everything is swallowed hook, line and sinker. With such disposition, the bullying won’t stop.

    The other day I stumbled on a video clip that was very disturbing. A certain church members went out for an outreach or evangelism sort of, on getting to a marshy point in a particular street; they began singing and rolling themselves on this marshy ground filled with black “potopoto”. I couldn’t fathom what prompted them to start exhibiting this silly act. Passersby were watching in awe… My beloved sister, the behaviour of some so called Christians is appalling to say the least.

  3. My Goodness! My ĹEAD pastor BANISHED a member and demoted one of his pastors just last week bcos the contributions they made during Sunday school while the LEAD pastor was away didn’t suit the him. (Someone reported them to the LEAD pastor and actually did misquoted them to suit his gossip) I fear for the life of the young man who was sent away from the church bcos he got born again in this same church some years back. I spoke to him two day’s ago and he thinks there is no God. He planned to Islamize yesterday. I was weeping profusely while speaking to him. Had to call other church members to please speak to him. The young man is still in shock as to being asked to leave the very first church where he met Jesus. Did I remember to say he said his colleagues have been mocking him bcos he talks about this same church to them every otherday? And invites them to church programs as well?

    I wish he can meet Pastor FOLA for counselling…. Pastor Fola and we’ll meaning Christians PLEASE pray for AUSTIN. I fear for his faith. He can be reached on 08176017866. God bless you for this article.

  4. It’s quite unfortunate that some Christians do not have the mind of their own. They are virtually spoon-fed on every issue that concerns their lives. The reason is not far-fetched really; it is simply because Christians have become so sheepishly docile and lazy to the point that beats imagination. They do not read the scriptures with an open mind to hear from God directly. They do not explore, research and even investigate information churned out and unleashed towards them. Everything is swallowed hook, line and sinker. With such disposition, the bullying won’t stop.

    The other day I stumbled on a video clip that was very disturbing. A certain church members went out for an outreach or evangelism sort of, on getting to a marshy point in a particular street; they began singing and rolling themselves on this marshy ground filled with black “potopoto”. I couldn’t fathom what prompted them to start exhibiting this silly act. Passersby were watching in awe… My beloved sister, the behavior of some so called Christians is appalling to say the least.

  5. Growing up I have always known that the Pastor is the spiritual head of the Church in Physical and not your God and as much as you respect him you don’t need to fear him. Once in a church and the Pastor called me and told me to join the workforce and I said categorically that am not join because I don’t think I am up to the commitment of working in the church. He counseled me on the word of God and never pushed further on me joining cos he said the decision is mine alone. People tend to be scared of the pastors and can’t query some of their actions and decisions. This boils down to the fact that we believe our Pastors can’t make mistake or can never be wrong forgetting that only God is perfect. If you see any of this signs Fola stated above,please you just need to ask yourself questions if you can allow the person to help you develop spiritual because God never condemn even when we commit same sin for the 1000th time.

  6. Thanks Aunt Fola…

    Indeed we only need validation from God and not from man. Our Pastors are our shepherds and they are to be reverend rather than be feared.

    May God help us.

  7. “Like emotional predators, they smell your vulnerabilities and once a weak spot is located, they will pounce. Before you know it, you’re hooked under their thumb.”
    Fola, so you care? You care, alongside being educated. My highest regards.

    PhD holders and well educated guys are General Overseers here in this land and in these times. Noble lady Fola sure knows that, I hope. These more educated guys know this predatory game. They know this power game. They have been within it. Am I right to assume that an educated mind, assuming it is humane, would rise up, just like you are doing here, to diplomatically crush this manipulative and oppressive ministrations, to reorientate our less-educated masses against them. The guys who started Nigerian pentecostalism were not so educated, Ayo Babalola, Moses Orimolade, Oschoffa and their generation. Could we maybe free them or excuse them? Original Africa overflows with superstitions reverence of religious authorities or even inanimate stuffs. Those guys could be presumed to be sincerely misled. And check their bios. They were somehow too otherworldly to practice the kind of vanities, debauchery and obscene materialism our modern prophets and pastors champion. Well, that’s barring womanizing- that seems a constant all through the years.

    Odd thing is, the more educated guys we have today seem to be capitalizing on their very education, their knowledge of human psychological vulnerabilities to lord it over the simplistic masses of their followers. And men, the thing is working like”jazz”. See wealthy pastors surrounded by financially-struggling masses of hopefuls by whom the wealth was made but who have no say on how the money is enjoyed simply because they haven’t evolved their own predatorial clouts to also hear their own call, start their own ministry and make their own billions off their own faithful “magas” who are actually victims of their own hyper-pragmatism.
    Praying for more of Folas and of this kind of articles to make an urgently needed difference for genuine God-seekers. Otherwise, going by these obscurantists who parade as men of God, another extreme religion will surely follow this generation, namely a generation of militant skeptics and God-haters. That appears to the shape of history, a la France and western nations in general.

  8. True, true, true. You have said it all. Some men of God have turned themselves in god of men.

    Jesus did not shed more blood for the Pastors than other people in the church. It is the same blood. We all have equal access to the Father. Lets use this access to get close to him and know him well. That is when all this bullying in the name of God will stop.

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