Caring for Our Wounded Survivors

By Scot McKnight -August 2, 2021

survivors of abuse

Compassion for the needy requires compassion for survivors of sexual and power abuse.

Many have said a society’s measure is how it treats the poor, or the “least of these,” or the marginalized. The prophets measured ancient Israel by how it treated the widows and orphans and foreign residents (often translated as “aliens”’ Exod. 22:21). The emphasis given to justice, or what we today call social justice, in our Old Testament brings to the surface a core biblical value. Israel’s emphasis contrasts, at times dramatically, with other ancient Near Eastern cultures.

Compassion, which translates a Greek term that describes visceral, emotional response to a person in need, characterizes Jesus. Here are examples in Matthew:

Matt. 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matt. 14:14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

Matt. 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”

Matt. 18:27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

Matt. 20:34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

The term describes the following complex: a person in need is seen, the visceral response by Jesus is noticed by those around him, Jesus does something to relieve the person from pain. Feeling their pain is not enough: until the visceral response turns into action it is not compassion.

Compassion for the needy requires compassion for survivors of sexual and power abuse. There are many in our churches today who are wounded survivors. Some are sitting silently in their pain; some are participating without anyone knowing their pain; some are engaged in efforts for other survivors; they are all sensitive to survivors. Some have been wounded because they shared their wounds.

We are called to follow Jesus into care for survivors and to being survivor-sensitive communities of faith that provide safety and healing for survivors. Here are some texts for us to consider today, and these texts from the New Testament can provoke us to deeper concern and care for the survivors in our midst.

I begin with a programmatic statement about the core mission of Jesus:

Matt. 9:36–38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Here the ones for whom Jesus shows compassion and care are suffering alone, they have been mistreated by the “shepherds of Israel,” and they are described like abandoned sheep who are bloodied, bruised, and broken.

These verses follow the sketch of Jesus’ mission we find in Matthew 4:23–25 and 9:35, which describe the core mission of Jesus: teaching, preaching, and healing. He does the first two in the Sermon on the Mount (chap. 5–7) and healing is found in ten episodes in chapters 8–9. Jesus’ mission shapes itself toward healing the survivors of pastoral abuse. Chapter ten records the mission of the twelve, which is described as extending the very mission of Jesus. Find the “lost sheep” he tells his apostles.

They too are to care for the survivors and wounded. Which is what we find in that magical parable called the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25:31–46. Sounding like a prophet of Israel, like Amos, Jesus tells his listeners that the final judgment will be based on how they treated the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, those without sufficient clothing, the sick, and the imprisoned (25:35–36). In other words survivors of various forms of injustices and persecutions and misfortunes. Think about it: the final judgment analyzes how you and I responded to the survivors of our world.

Jesus told a parable that digs its heels into our hearts, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). It begins with a variant on what I call the “Jesus Creed.” A canon lawyer (scribe) probes Jesus about the right religion. How do I gain eternal life? Jesus responded by asking what the Torah teaches. The canon lawyer says “love God, love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says “A plus answer.” Then the canon lawyer opens the door to his corrupted heart because solid theology and good hearts aren’t necessary correlations. He wants to know now but one thing: “Who is my neighbor?” He’s asking about exceptions. (By the way, get someone else to ask your questions of Jesus.)

Jesus answers with the parable. The core idea of the parable is the priests and assistant priests—go ahead and explore your ecclesial offices: popes and cardinals and archbishops and bishops and priests, pastors and deacons and elders and professors … to resume, the core idea is that the knowledgeable crowd knows what the Torah teaches so well they find a reason to walk around and right by a wounded survivor on the path. They legitimated their lack of compassion, their inaction, their non-compassion by their exegetical and canonical expertise.

So Jesus takes a Nobody (in the priests’ eyeballs), a Samaritan—socially excluded, religiously inferior, degraded from the perspective of temple categories—and shows up the priest and assistant priest. The Samaritan did what Jesus did: he showed compassion for the wounded survivor, he tended to him, he cared for him, he absorbed resources for him—that is, he extended the mission of Jesus to the survivors he met along his path. There are always Samaritans around showing up the religious authorities.

Which is why Jesus’ younger brother said,

“If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” —James 1:26–27

Take those words to heart: “religion that is pure and undefiled before God” is the kind that shows compassion for survivors.

Which is why his older brother then said, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

Even today.

Battery Acid

Car battery, Author Towel401 (PD)

The victims of child abuse often wrestle with the question of forgiveness.  Forgiveness can feel like defeat – another surrender to a predator who has already taken so much from us, including our self-respect.

Strength v. Weakness

But forgiveness is NOT a sign of weakness.  Nor is it a warm and cozy feeling.

Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to put the past behind us [1].  That requires enormous strength on the part of victims.  Most of us cannot accomplish it until we have first mourned our losses (a fact those urging forgiveness upon us must not overlook).

Unforgiveness

Emotionally speaking, unforgiveness is akin to the sulfuric acid used in storage batteries.

Battery acid is a dangerous substance.  It dissolves the skin, causing chemical burns.  Heavy scarring can result.  Contact with the eyes will cause blindness.  Long-term exposure to fumes is toxic.

Like battery acid, unforgiveness eats us up inside, creating scars that further tie us to the past, exacerbating rather than easing our pain.  And the longer our bitterness lasts, the deeper the scars.

Bitterness blinds us to the possibilities before us.  Forgiveness, by contrast, opens our eyes.  It clears our head, and cleanses our heart.  We can once again breathe freely.  The past no longer has power over us.

Release

Forgiveness is NOT salt in the wound, NOT an added stripe from the lash, NOT a final humiliation [2].  Nor is it an argument that predators’ horrendous behavior should be excused away at victims’ expense.

Significantly, forgiveness is not inconsistent with criminal prosecution, should victims choose to pursue that.  Prosecution may prevent others from being victimized.

Instead, forgiveness implies release for the victim…release from bitterness, from anger, from hatred.  From the groundless self-condemnation the abuse to which we were subjected left in its wake [3].

Victims deserve that.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matt. 5: 44).

[1]  Prevention, “How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You – Even When It Feels Impossible” by Cassie Shortsleeve, 12/13/19, https://www.prevention.com/life/a29995725/how-to-forgive-som.eone/

[2]  NPR, “Why Forgiving Someone Else Is Really About You” by Stephanie O’Neill, 7/30/20, https://www.npr.org/2020/07/28/896245305/why-forgiving-someone-else-is-really-about-you.

[3]  This is not to suggest that we were responsible for our abuse.  Children, however, blame themselves for the actions of the adults around them.  Victims carry that misplaced sense of guilt into adulthood.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2021/07/18/battery-acid/

Teen girl urges adults to stop being ‘cowardly,’ protect kids by speaking out against trans policies

By Brandon Showalter, Christian Post Reporter | Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Jolene Grover
Jolene and Natassia Grover speak on Fox News about the Loudoun County Public Schools gender identity policies.

A teenage girl whose comments before the Loudoun County School Board in Virginia went viral explained why she felt called to speak out.

Jolene Grover, 14, told members of the school board last week that their policy of allowing males into girls’ private spaces, such as restrooms and locker rooms, is an affront to female students.

Sporting a green T-shirt that read “Woman is female,” the now-homeschooled student who was previously enrolled in a Louden County public school told the board members: “Everyone knows what a boy is — even you.”

“Your policies are dangerous and rooted in sexism. Boys are reading erotica in the classrooms next to girls, and you want to give them access to girls’ locker rooms, and you want to force girls to call those boys ‘she,’” she said in her remarks, as reported by the New York Post.

“You do this in the name of inclusivity while ignoring the girls who will pay the price. Your policies choose boys’ wants over girls’ needs.”

She also recounted that when she expressed concern to a guidance counselor about the policies, she was dismissed and told there are stalls in the bathroom.

Jolene said in an email to The Christian Post on Monday that though she is no longer a student in the public school system, she spoke out because she is especially concerned for her friends who are still there, particularly one who is starting sixth grade in the fall. 

“I’ve known her for years, and she is like a little sister to me. I also speak out because there are too many cowardly adults who are remaining quiet about this issue. I want adults to stop calling me brave for fighting a battle that wasn’t mine to begin with,” Jolene said. 

“They need to speak out publicly about this issue, not just whisper to their friends and other people who agree with them that boys shouldn’t be allowed in the girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms. Some of my friends still enrolled in LCPS have spoken to me about their concern with these policies, but they are also too afraid to speak out,” she added.

Her mother, Nastassia, who has written previously about gender identity ideology and how it threatens women’s rights, told CP in a separate email Monday that it’s important for people to boldly voice their objections.

“Outrage is important. It motivates people to speak out and to fight for what they believe in. Righteous indignation leaves no room for fear,” she said. 

She added that the only solution to fix these problems is for conservative-leaning parents to remove their children from the schools. The Democratic Party is “a lost cause” on the issue, she maintained, adding that parents don’t stand a chance to win unless the Republicans make a generous school choice policy a part of their platform and act on it. 

“The GOP must become the party of the common, moral working man and must do it now,” she stressed, noting that this is an issue where the conservative party will either show itself to be “the controlled opposition party that only exists to lose” or the only party that exists to fight for families and for girls’ most basic rights to privacy and dignity.

The Loudoun County mother also believes that the school system will be doubling down hard on mandatory preferred pronoun use and mixed-sex bathrooms and locker rooms, and believes state and national LGBT activist groups are driving this push. 

“The puppet masters pulling the strings — such as Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign — are too financially and politically powerful to ignore. They are not going to let all their hard work in Richmond go to waste because a few outspoken Christians don’t want to be complicit in lies and child abuse,” she said. 

“Who Virginians elect, or have elected for them, in November and in other consequential elections will determine the final trajectory of the state. Do we continue on as Maryland-lite, or do we try to become New California, or do we turn back the madness and protect our most basic fundamental rights?”

Jolene’s words come on the heels of coach Tanner Cross, an LCPS employee, who made comments at a similar forum last month when he said he would not “affirm that a biological boy can be a girl and vice versa because it’s against my religion.” 

“It’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child, and it’s sinning against our God.”

Because of his remarks, he was subsequently placed on administrative leave, but then he filed a lawsuit and won at the Virginia state circuit court, which ruled that he must be reinstated.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/teen-girl-urges-adults-to-speak-out-against-trans-policies-in-schools.html


Standing woman holds hand outstretched to stop abuse, protecting abused woman or teenager, crumpled on the sidewalk.

Red Carpet

Red carpet at 81st Annual Academy Awards in Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, Author Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez), Source Flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime.  She smiles.  She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that.  She eats up the attention.

Many abuse victims are just the opposite.  We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us.  Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.

Why is this?  Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting?  Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?

Staying at home seems so much safer.

Rejection

If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection.  Often, this centers around our looks.  Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us.  Our nose is too large or our hips too wide.  We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.

If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.

We do not actually believe that will happen.  But we fear it, all the same.  Fear does not require a rational basis.  Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.

Monsters

Still, there is a clue here.  We’ve known monsters.  Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have.  Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects.  Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation.

That would undermine anyone’s confidence.  But there may be an even more compelling reason why we shy away from social activities and public events.  We were forced to navigate childhood without adult assistance.

Other children were taught how to deal with the challenges of growing up.  We had obstacles put in our way.  Other children were comforted and encouraged.  We were threatened and shamed, or our needs ignored altogether.

Inadequacy

That can leave abuse victims with a sense of inadequacy as adults.

Chances are our first reaction to a new experience will not be anticipation.  Rather, it may be panic.  What are we supposed to say?  How are we supposed act?  What if we make a mistake or fail to measure up?

Social interaction necessarily involves some uncertainty.  No matter how hard we may try, we cannot plan out every moment.  Viewed positively, this can be seen as exciting; viewed negatively, it can be seen as dangerous.  The history of abuse will incline many victims toward the latter.

Under those circumstances, just making small talk can seem like an impossible task.

Revealing the Emptiness

Deep down, what we fear is revealing our emptiness.  Forced since childhood to function above our grade level, we presume ourselves to be lacking in some fundamental way.  Like children, we believe that deficiency to be visible to others.

What we fear is rejection not for our appearance but, more profoundly, for who we are, in effect, for having “deserved” our abuse.  No child, of course, deserves abuse.  Unfortunately, recognizing that intellectually does not mean we believe it.

Until we do, Kim Kardashian will have the red carpet to herself.

Originally posted 2/27/16

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2021/04/11/red-carpet-2/


“Cycle of Abuse”

By Mary Mattison

“Children sleeping in Mulberry Street” by 19th Century reformer Jacob Reis (1890) (PD)

The history of child abuse in all its forms would astonish many.  It leaves little hope to be vanquished, considering in many countries it is deemed “culture”.  Although we can not stop child abuse in its entirety, we do have the power to help save one child at a time in America, and hope for humanitarian efforts to continue their fight for children around the world.

The life of Mary Ellen Wilson started an increased awareness for the need to protect children.  She was born in 1864.  When her Mother became  widowed, she sent Mary to boarding school, but could not continue the payments.  By the age of two Mary Ellen was placed in foster care, suffering the abuse for eight years.  Although neighbors heard the cries, and saw the condition she lived in, they did not come to her aid, but thankfully one concerned woman could not forget her.

In 1874 a Methodist missionary, Etta Angell Wheeler, was asked to check on Mary Ellen, since she made frequent visits to the poor tenements.  After seeing the badly bruised and neglected child, she set out to take legal recourse and remove her from the home.

A court case ensued, and the judge placed Mary Ellen with a loving family.  She went on to lead a productive life, and some have deemed her a “dandelion” child, which are children who seem to thrive and do rather well, despite living through horrific experiences.  Sadly not all cases have such a happy ending.

There have been many changes in child welfare since 1874, yet the circumstances that left Mary Ellen in an abusive home for years are still much the same.

With all the recent effort to decide who will fund woman’s reproductive health, four children die every day from abuse.  This is only an estimation, and fatalities are rising.  Each state has a data base, and the numbers are heart wrenching.  See, for example, https://dcs.az.gov/news/child-fatalities-near-fatalities-information-releases .

Child Protective Services stood to receive 3.3 Billion dollars in 2016 to fund their programs.  The bleak reality is, there is not enough money, or man power to stop the abuse and neglect of children.  Valuable time is wasted investigating false claims, while serious cases of abuse and neglect go unreported.  In some cases children are placed in poorly screened foster homes where the abuse continues.

Would it not be more economical to address the social issues?  The lack of moral values, compassion for human life, and self-seeking behaviors that are behind the suffering of innocent children?

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3: 14).

Like Etta Angell  Wheeler, Mary Mattison is a woman with a loving heart.  She blogs at Anchor Thy Soul https://anchorthysoul.wordpress.com and Pennies for Dreams https://penniesfordreams.com.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2017/12/03/cycle-of-abuse-by-mary-mattison/


Fractured Lives, Part 1

Axl Rose, Author Dineshraj Goomany, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgoomany/7334557068/ (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

What do Axl Rose, Sinead O’Connor, Prince, and Madonna have in common?  As their fans know, these acclaimed artists have all experienced abuse of one kind or another.

Axl Rose

“I feel that child abuse and sexual abuse…is kind of the key to why there are so many problems in the world today.  The more books I read on it, and the more work I do on trying to overcome the problems that I had in my childhood that I accepted…I knew it was crazy, but I accepted it as normal behavior for my life, and I realize now that it wasn’t normal behavior, and it’s caused me to act in many ways because it’s what I was trained, it’s what I was taught, it’s what I saw.  My formative years were very ugly.”

-Axl Rose [1]

William Bruce Rose, Jr. a/k/a Axl Rose – frontman for the band Guns N’ Roses – had a troubled childhood [2][3].  Sexually abused at the age of two by his biological father, Rose was later physically abused by his stepfather.

Understandably, Rose developed difficulties with authority, becoming a delinquent in his teens.  He was often self-destructive, intentionally overdosing on painkillers in 1986.  His personal relationships have been tumultuous.

Musically, Rose sometimes exercised suffocating control over the bands with whom he sang.  For a time abandoning his career, he spent years in near isolation.

Despite all this, Rose was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  Guns N’ Roses have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide.

Sinead O’Connor

“Whenever she beats me, which is daily, she makes me take my clothes off.  I have to lie on the floor. I have to open my arms and legs.  I have to let her attack my abdomen.  She wants to burst my womb.  She wants to stop me from being a female.”

-Sinead O’Connor, speaking of her mother [4A]

Sinead O’Connor n/k/a Magda Davitt suffered years of physical and sexual abuse by her mother [4B].  She was beaten, locked in her room, deprived of food and clothes.

O’Connor has characterized her mother either as a sadist and pedophile or demon possessed.  “She used to make me say over and over ‘I am nothing.  I am nothing’ or else she’d beat me”, O’Connor says of her mother.  When confronted, her mother denied the abuse, further fueling O’Connor’s anger.

The Grammy award winning singer, also, acknowledged on the Dr. Phil Show that she was raped by several strangers between the ages of 3 and 12, eventually adopting a masculine look because “it was dangerous to be pretty”.

O’Connor attempted suicide 8 times in a single year, following a hysterectomy.

“As artists I believe our function is to express the feelings of the human race — to always speak the truth and never keep it hidden even though we are operating in a world which does not like the sound of the truth.”

-Sinead O’Connor, Letter to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences [5]

When O’Connor tore apart a photo of the pope during an appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, the backlash was brutal.  But the gesture was meant as a protest against the Catholic Church sex scandal.  A photo of the pope had, also, stood beside her abusive mother’s bed.

Sinead O’Connor finds release from pain through her music.  O’Connor has generated 10 albums, but believes that her strength is in performing live.  She uses music to tell her story, as in the song “Troy”.

[1]  Revolver, “20 Great Axl Rose Quotes:  Guns N’ Roses Singer on Jail, Dancing, Therapy, More” by Kelsy Chapstick, 2/6/19, https://www.revolvermag.com/music/20-great-axl-rose-quotes-guns-n-roses-singer-jail-dancing-therapy-more.

[2]  The Guardian, “Reclusive rocker breaks his silence” by Luke Bainbridge, 10/25/08, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/oct/26/gunsnroses-popandrock1.

[3]  Wikipedia, “Axl Rose”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axl_Rose.

[4A and 4B]  iHeart Radio, “Sinead O’Connor Says She Was Abused by Mother” by John Kennedy, 9/12/17, https://www.iheartradio.ca/news/sinead-o-connor-says-she-was-abused-by-mother-1.3284012.

[5]  Refinery 29, “What She Hasn’t Got:  An Apology for Sinead O’Connor” by Tara Murtha, 9/16/18, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/09/210003/sinead-o-connor-legacy-catholic-church-me-too.

This series will conclude next week.

Sixteen missing children were this week rescued by the US Marshals Service in Philadelphia.  At least four were victims of child sex trafficking. 

Seehttps://www.cnn.com/2021/03/20/us/philadelphia-missing-children-recovered-operation-safeguard/index.html.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2021/03/21/fractured-lives-part-1/

Seven Reasons Why Church Leaders Abuse People

By Dr. James Scott, Jr. -March 11, 2021

abuse

Seven Reasons Why Church Leaders Abuse People

It’s easy to throw stones at all the things that aren’t so good about the internet and social media, but we don’t nearly as often hear about the wonderful things that also come from using technology to connect with others.

Like, for example, being able to connect with some terrific people you otherwise would never meet!

Just recently, one of those terrific people I’ve recently met through social media reached out to me about the topic of why church leaders abuse people. This fellow is a devoted Christian, a sharp guy who has seen abuse happen by church leaders, and is concerned about it. He leads a ministry that has a popular website, and wanted to talk about why leaders abuse others and see how his website might be able to do something on the topic.

I pointed out to my friend that, like any other problem, it’s important to identify the root cause(s) of a problem in order to effectively address or resolve it. First, we started with this premise: When God calls a godly man, who meets His biblical standard, and follows the biblical model for church and ministry, then the fruit of that will not be someone who purposely hurts others. So our discussion turned to the question of why church leaders abuse other people, and here are seven key reasons we discussed:

1. The practice of sin; the presence of evil. Where there are patterns of abuse, there is the practice of sin.

2. Wrong people in the ministry. More than 1,700 pastors quit each month. We tend to automatically think it’s because these ministers have burned out, etc., but several of the pastors who quit should never have been ordained and in vocational ministry in the first place. That’s because some of them do not meet the biblical qualifications to be pastors; for others who do, many go into ministry inadequately equipped, some who even have never been personally discipled. New attention needs to be given to churches and denominations about their examination process for those they are ordaining into ministry.

3. Wrong method of how we structure a church. Many churches today are structured in such a way as to place all “power” into the hands of a single individual, usually a senior pastor. Instead of structuring a church by biblical example, with a plurality of elders, many churches are structured as if they are a pastor’s personal fiefdom. Instead of elders or deacons, we have “management teams” who serve at the whim of a charismatic or controlling pastor, with little to no accountability to others. This kind of power position is a breeding ground for abuse.

4. Corruption from a broad-based addiction to leadership. Leadership, leadership, leadership. That’s almost all you hear about in church leadership circles. What leadership books are you reading? What leadership conferences are you attending? How many new leaders are you developing? And sadly, much (most?) of what is written about leadership, and taught at church conferences as leadership, are business leadership models and principles, NOT biblical teaching about servant leadership. One outcome is many church leaders would rather spend their time with other church leaders than with the flock they’re supposed to be shepherding. When you adopt a worldly model, you’ll be working from the flesh, not walking, led, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s why many of today’s leadership structures in the church are based on the pastor as CEO and leading an “organization,” not a structure of an under-shepherd serving the family of God. This corruption of leadership is also a breeding ground for abuse, as CEO pastors see church members as volunteers there to accomplish their vision. To get them to do that, manipulation, control, and other abuse can occur.

5. Pride. So many who “mentor” ministers teach church leaders to create their own platforms and promote it broadly and constantly. That makes “being a leader” about pursuing and achieving “success.” Using people to achieve that often results in abuse.

6. Sin. This isn’t the practice of sin, which was the first item mentioned, this is that occasional fall that any and all of us can have in our lives. A pastor can become so over-worked, under-rested, and under-appreciated he could snap at someone or otherwise exercise poor decision-making. This can be rectified quickly with confession and repentance, and usually isn’t an ongoing problem unless the minister fails to fix the things in his life that led him to this momentarily lapse in sin.

7. Mental health issues. Just like the general population, many ministers struggle with mental health issues, from things as simple as temperament weaknesses and dealing with stress, to working from patterns of irrational thinking or developing habits of cognitive distortions. These can lead to conflict and, if not handled properly, may lead to abuse. Also like the general population, a sizable percentage of ministers say they do suffer, or have suffered, from a diagnosed mental illness. These can include anything from narcissistic tendencies, depression, and chronic anxiety, to bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. If a minister doesn’t receive appropriate treatment for a mental illness, his illness could contribute to inappropriate treatment of others.

There are other reasons why church leaders abuse people, these are some of the primary reasons. When you identify a root cause to a problem, you can then identify some of the ways to fix a problem. For the issues shared above, some things to do to fix some of these issues include:

  • The personal holiness of those who claim to be called to church leadership of any kind. Have they been discipled, trained, and equipped? Is their covenant relationship with Jesus Christ authentic and mature enough to move into ministry?
  • So the assessment process for licensure or ordination of ministerial candidates must be explored and addressed.
  • How churches are structured must be explored and addressed.
  • How to address falls (not a practice) of sin must be learned.
  • The plight of leadership addiction must be addressed in the church. We must change what it means to be a leader in the church.
  • Whether there are mental health issues or illness needs to be identified and treated.
  • All Christians need to be discipled to spiritual maturity.

Just as there are other causes for church leaders abusing people, there is more to be done to resolve such issues as well. Abuse of any kind, by anyone, anywhere is not acceptable, but it certainly must never be tolerated in the church among church leaders. We need to look closely at why some church leaders abuse people, and take every necessary action to stop the abuse, see to healing of the abused, aim for restoration and discipleship of the leader, and be proactive in preventing any opportunity for abuse to occur in the church by its leaders.

This article originally appeared here.

Dr. James Scott, Jr., is a minister, former church planter, Christian clinical therapist, certified Personal Trainer, and author. He currently serves as Founder and President of Scott Free Clinic, an international parachurch ministry. Follow him at ScottFreeClinic.org.

Pastor Jack Graham Shares His Battle with Depression and Why the Church Must Lead in the Mental Health Fight

03-21-2021 Jack Graham

We live in an incredibly anxious and depressed culture here in America, and the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and divisive politics have further exacerbated this issue. According to a 2020 report from Mental Health America, more than 47 million adults in our nation are experiencing some form of mental illness. My home state of Texas is one of the lowest ranking in the nation for quality of mental health and treatment for mental illness in adults.

Moreover,  across America,  approximately 4.4 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety and another 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression. Most concerning, suicide has become the second leading cause of death among people 10 to 34 years of age.

We have an established mental health crisis on our hands. Sadly, the Christian church has often neglected to respond in a loving and supportive way to those who are struggling with mental health issues. I’m heartbroken to say many people who have sought help and hope within the church have been turned away, shamed, or told — sometimes by well-meaning pastors or lay counselors — they just need to “pray harder” or “have more faith.”

2021 is a new year, and it’s time for the Christian church to respond to this crisis in a new way. 

In 2019, Lifeway Research surveyed pastors, congregants, and their families about mental illness and the church. The survey revealed nearly half of pastors (49%) “rarely or never speak to their church in sermons or large group settings about acute mental illness.” Additionally, close to one in four individuals surveyed indicated they had either “stopped attending church, had not found a church to attend or had changed churches based on the church’s response to mental health issues.” 

I believe the church’s failure lies not in ill intention but largely in misinformation and lack of proper training. While there is a spiritual aspect to mental health that churches and pastors can and should address, we often have missed the clinical reality of mental health.

Complicating the matter is the fact that in my generation (Baby Boomers) mental health has often been viewed as a taboo subject to be discussed only at home, if at all. We were raised to believe that if you are a follower of Jesus, you’re not supposed to struggle with mental health, depression or anxiety. I remember thinking this way when I was a young Christian, and it took several painful experiences over the course of my life for me to grasp what it’s like to struggle with mental health.

My father was brutally murdered by a shoplifter at his store when I was 20 years old. Losing him in such a violent way launched me into one of the darkest valleys I’ve ever had to walk through. At one of my lowest points, I seriously doubted God’s existence.

Then, 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The treatment and recovery periods were grueling and left me exhausted both physically and emotionally. Anxiety and depression took hold. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t enjoy the things I once loved. I felt like a dead man walking, and I wondered if I was ever going to make it. Some Sundays I had to drag myself to the pulpit.

It took me more than a year to come out of that darkness. I sought the help of professional counselors who recommended different forms of treatment that were effective in my battle with depression. The church also played an indispensable role, caring, loving, and encouraging me during my hardest days. This is what the apostle Paul exhorted us to do in Galatians 6:20, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the love of Christ” (ESV). 

If we are followers of Jesus, we are tasked with not only caring deeply about the spiritual health of others, but their mental, emotional and physical health as well, for they are all tied together. 

The good news is the church is uniquely equipped to care for people struggling with mental illness. As a local community of faith called to love one another, it acts as a crucial support system for all who are in need. Many of the Bible’s teachings — such as forgiving those who have wronged us, recognizing the inherent value of every human life, and giving thanks for the blessings we have — are used by professional counselors to help people cope with and overcome depression and anxiety.

The church has the potential to change the tide of the mental illness epidemic rising in our nation, but for this to happen we need to start talking about the issues. We need to equip ourselves so we can offer effective, practical care for people who need healing. This is why Prestonwood has started Life Recovery Ministry, a program to help people cope and heal from emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual wounds caused by illness, addiction, and abuse. Life Recovery Ministry will host The River Conference on March 19 and 20, to address mental health stigma, domestic abuse, sexual healing, and more. This event will feature experts in psychology and religion and is open for in-person and online attendance.

We the church can no longer stand on the sidelines while people are suffering and hurting. We must step up and step in to end this critical cycle before it’s too late.

COMMENT

We wholeheartedly concur with Dr Jack Graham and call on all churches to address mental health stigma, domestic abuse, sexual healing, and more

Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America. He is also a noted author, and his PowerPoint Ministries broadcasts are available in 92 countries and are heard daily in more than 740 cities. Facebook | www.facebook.com/PPTMinistries   Twitter | @jackngraham

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2021/march/pastor-jack-graham-shares-his-battle-with-depression-and-why-the-church-must-lead-in-the-mental-health-fight


A Duck, A Plumb Bob, A Compass

Plumb_bob


By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
31 December 2013

Building a house without a plumb bob is like using a compass without a North. Many of our leaders have adopted values without a plumb bob and a compass without a North, leading from behind those rushing to dive off the cliff.

We live in a broken world. Our experiences here are a mixed bag of good and bad, joy and pain—a reality that Solomon expressed when he wrote, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14:13). The merry heart often does grieve, for that is what this life sometimes demands.

I am pretty sure you have heard of the controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Simply put Phil Robertson expressed his personal opinion stating his personal beliefs during an interview for a magazine article and was suspended from his show for speaking what he thought. It was clear he was not acting as a spokesman for A & E, any church, or group. Agree with him or not you should agree that he has a Right to expresses his personal views, just as you and I have that Right. One of the foundations of our Constitutional Republic is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Sadly a group called “GLAAD” felt that bullying and intimidation was going to persuade people that their view was correct and that no one could express an opposing view. Bullying by anyone at anytime is not acceptable.

It has been well said that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

I am a firm believer that even the worst of bullies can have a change of heart and cease being a bully to become a kind and gentle soul.

Bullies only succeed when good people enable the bully by not saying – “that behavior is not acceptable”. Bullies rule by fear – fear of physical, emotional, and/or financial consequences. A bully can be a family member, a “friend”, co-worker, or government employee.

Calling someone a bully does not seem to carry the same stigma as calling someone abusive. It is fairly easy to get a Court Order to keep an abusive person away from you. I don’t know of any bullies who have Court Orders restraining them. There is no difference, other than the name, in the bully’s and abusive person’s actions, intent, and methods.

The Bully/Abusive person causes the same fear, anxiety and consternation to the victim. Many victims need to move, change jobs and expend many hours and spend a lot of money trying to escape the bully/abuser while trying to repair the damage the bully/abuser caused. Often professional assistance is needed for the victim to recover and remain safe. The Bully/Abusive person does not consider the mental health issues they cause their victims while they spew their venomous rants and actions.

The new year will hit us with the reality of the many unwelcomed new regulations and taxes which have been heaped upon us. Some might call it oppressive. You can call it a government being a bully or abusive toward the people they are supposed to be serving. Where do we go to get a Court Order to stop them from abusing us? They’ll be right there if we move or change jobs.

What bully/abusers have in common is that they don’t have a plumb bob of principles and their moral compass has no North. They are like a ship without a rudder wandering aimlessly. They are like the house built on sand that gets washed away by the rain. They go whichever way feels good at the moment to satisfy themselves, yes selfish. This is certainly by no means a permanent impediment in their lives. People who want to can change and receive the peace in their hearts that so desperately seek. They are just looking in all the wrong places.

Phil Robertson was answering the questions with his plumb bob in place and a compass that points North. For far too many the plumb bob and compass were thrown out when the Courts kicked God out of schools. It does not have to remain like this. Each person makes a choice in their personal lives, even if the government does not change, as to whether they will be use a plumb bob and a compass that points North.

We were made to have a plumb bob and a compass that points North in our lives. Let’s tell all Bully/Abusers to: “Get back to where you once belonged”, to quote the Beatles.

Happy New Year.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/a-duck-a-plumb-bob-a-compass/

Dad Learns About Daughter’s Abusive BF, Puts A Bounty On His Head – Warning Graphic Images

Morgan February 16, 2021

A young woman’s boyfriend beat her to a bloody pulp. The attack cost her eyesight. In response, the girl’s father released this picture of the boyfriend to the world and put this bounty on his head.

Chelsea Simmons lost sight in her left eye after being brutally beaten by her boyfriend, Cedric Powe. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Chelsea Simmons was brutally beaten in Missouri by her boyfriend, Cedric Powe, causing her to permanently lose vision in her left eye. In response, the young woman’s father offered a $500 reward to anyone who could provide information on the whereabouts of the suspect.

Chelsea was nearly killed during the altercation with her boyfriend. She had filed a restraining order against Powe, but this did little to protect the young woman against her attacker, who has a history of violating an order of protection.

Doctors say that Chelsea Simmons was just minutes away from death and will likely endure pain stemming from the incident for the rest of her life. “Apparently he choked her until she passed out, brought her back, then choked her again and continually stomped on her head,” explained Chelsea’s stepmother, Melissa Zack. “She’s scared and she probably will be forever.” Meanwhile, Cedric Powe, who is known to his friends as Moe, fled to the south side of St. Louis after dishing out the brutal beating.

Chelsea’s father, Mark Zack, offered $500 to anyone who could provide police with information that would help them track down his daughter’s attacker. “He needs to be caught so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else, and I don’t have to worry about it happening to her ever again,” said Melissa Zack.

Cedric Powe (Photo Credit: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

Cedric Powe has a lengthy criminal history, including a 2008 arrest for domestic battery and an obstruction of justice charge. The suspect pleaded guilty to the obstruction of justice charge and was sentenced to one year in prison, but because of his guilty plea, the domestic battery charge against him was dismissed. He then went on to beat Chelsea Simmons to a bloody pulp.

Mark Zack’s reward appears to have done the trick. Police caught up with Cedric Powe in St. Louis and arrested him. He was subsequently charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery in connection with the beating of Chelsea Simmons. Bond was set at a half-million dollars.

Chelsea Simmons after the near-fatal beating which left her blind in one eye. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

According to Mt. Vernon Network News, the charges contained in the warrant accuse Powe of taking a substantial step towards first-degree murder or causing great bodily harm by strangling Chelsea. The aggravated domestic battery charge is also based on the attempt to strangle Chelsea. The aggravated battery charge accuses Powe of punching and kicking Chelsea.

The information contained in an order of protection received by Chelsea Simmons the day after the attack accuses Cedric Powe of beating her nearly to the point of death, leaving her with permanent blindness in her left eye. The order of protection also details other alleged acts of violence, including a prior beating and kidnapping where Powe allegedly called Chelsea’s family, demanding money in exchange for her return.

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Powe was extradited back to Illinois to face these charges, and he was ultimately sentenced to 14 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Powe pleaded guilty to the Class 2 aggravated domestic battery including strangling, in exchange for charges of Class 3 aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and Class X attempted murder being dismissed.

In addition to his 14-year prison sentence, Powe must also serve 4-years mandatory supervised release, otherwise known as parole, and pay $1,352.60 in restitution. It would seem to be a small price to pay for the severity of his crime.


Word cloud in the shape of a woman’s hand for the day on violence against women.