It’s ok to feel ready to leave

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize them by their fruits. Their church leadership position can make them appear holy and right and mask their bad fruits. When you shop for fruits at the grocery store, you need to look past the layers of coloring and wax that cover the bad fruit on the shelf in order to truly see the condition of that fruit. Their goal is to sell you bad fruit by making it seem good and covering up its defects. The same is true with bad leadership in a church and the same careful checking is needed.

Don’t worry about leaving bad leaders. Jesus’ greatest warning to his disciples was to guard themselves against false teachers and to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees – something they didn’t really understand. In the same way today, we don’t really understand the severity of Jesus’ warnings against false or crooked leaders. We’ll talk to ourselves and say things like: Leave my leader? He’s a church leader. He’s been one for years. He can’t be that bad if he’s a church leader. Sure he has flaws and I see signs of crooked/abusive/corrupt dealings, but maybe I’m being too critical and unloving. Maybe I need to be more forgiving and loving toward him and he will change. He told me he’s my spiritual father. He told me it’s against God’s will for me to go anywhere else. He told me I’d be cursed if I leave him. Leave my leader? Really?
Like the disciples, we too need to understand what Jesus meant when he told them to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and why He was so serious about it. The false teachings and practices of corrupt and abusive leaders infiltrate our sincere desire for God very subtly like leaven in dough, and they begin dominating and corrupting our mind and soul, just as the leaven dominates the dough.

 Jesus is ready to throw corrupt and abusive leaders in fire, so it’s ok if you feel ready to leave them.

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew‬ ‭7:19‬ ‭

Don’t call your church the house of God

When you call your church the “house of God”, it makes you sound like you are tied to a building and you worship a building and a religious organization rather than the God you proclaim.

When you call your church the “house of God”, you are telling the world that God is so small and worldly and powerless that we can contain Him in a building that was built by men.

Not everybody who enters your building will have real faith and be transformed by God. In fact, there are many church leaders themselves are not fully genuine, lead double lives, and engage in corrupt practices, much like the pharisees and false teachers Jesus warned us about. The world will look at these individuals who have entered the “house of God” and not only be unimpressed with them, but rightfully angry that these individuals do worse things than those who don’t enter the “house of God”. They’ll wonder how it is possible to enter the “house of God” and not be transformed, or how it is possible to enter the “house of God” and come out being so corrupt. This makes God look weak, powerless, and approving of twisted behaviours.

When you call your church the “house of God”, you are telling the world that your building is the only place that God lives, because you call it His house. You are telling the world that if ever they want to find God, they must go inside your building to meet Him. This misleads people.

Saying this also shows people that we have not really understood the Bible, and therefore this building we attend is not properly leading us in God’s truth.

So, what is the “house of God” according to the Bible?

God intended for us to be His habitation, not a building. God is not interested in physical houses, but in the house of our inner being. God doesn’t want to inhabit a religious building on Sunday mornings, He wants to inhabit our inner being and our entire life, to be a powerful life-changing part of it everyday.

Acts 7:48-49 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’

1 Cor 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

You are God’s temple, not your church building. God’s spirit dwells in you and wants to fill you, not the 4 walls that you congregate in.

1 Pet 2:5 You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

No more bricks. God came and made us alive and we are like living stones that make up His Church in all the world. The house or temple of God is now a spiritual one – it’s not a physical one like it was in the Old Testament.

John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

What a revolutionary thing to say. Religious leaders didn’t understand it then and some still don’t understand it now because it’s so revolutionary, going way beyond human and religious thinking. Jesus shifted the focus from religious buildings as being God’s temple, to human bodies now being the place where God desires to dwell and inhabit.

You don’t have to be anywhere near a church or a gathering of Christians to experience God. You don’t need a building to get a blessing. God’s not interested in church buildings, He’s interested in you right where you are. He wants to meet you in your inner being and dwell with you there.

The modern day ministry title of apostle

The following notes have been adapted from an audio clip by Graham Cooke. They are a perfect and truthful response to the modern day apostolic movement. Nowadays, church leaders are quick to upgrade their titles to “apostles” because it’s trendy, higher up there, and it sounds more powerful.

If you are writing “apostle” on your business card, you have not been humbled and brought to a place of servanthood, stewardship, and slavery. You are trusting in self-promotion to advance yourself. You have not let God fully develop you. In Ephesians 4:11, “Apostle”, “Prophet”, “Evangelist”, “Pastor”, “Teacher” are not titles, they are job descriptions. You cannot put them before your name. That is not what they are there for. The real ministry titles are those of servant, steward, and slave.

In the Bible, preceding the part where Paul calls himself an apostle, he says:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” Romans 1:1

Apostle was his job description, but servant was his real spiritual designation and title.

Even Jesus called himself a servant and a slave.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Jesus said there were 3 things not to let anyone call you by: Rabbi, Father, or Teacher.

“[the scribes and pharisees love] greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:7-11

In Acts 16:17, the slave girl with a spirit of divination follows after Paul and Silas and she calls them servants and not apostles.

“She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

Notice that she did not say they were apostles of the most High God. She called them servants because that is their real title in the spiritual realm. Why is it that the demonic realm can understand something that the Church is slow to understand?

We must die to titles. Nowadays, there are more false apostles than real ones right now. They are not all false in the sense of being demonic, but they are ignorant of what real humble biblical ministry really is about.

We don’t need a title because we serve an audience of one and what God thinks about us is the most important thing in the world.

Blessings and character

God releases his blessing upon us according to the amount of character that we have allowed Him to develop in us.

God does not measure time. It’s now about how long you wait for something, but about how much you allow God into your life and allow Him to transform you in order to prepare you to receive that something. God measures our growth, not time. If God wants to take 5 years to develop me in an area but I resist him and complain, and run away for all that time, then my lack of growth can extend my development process in that area.

He’s not slow, He’s just patient

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…”‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We don’t know how to count time and sloweness as we should. The Lord often seems too slow because we’re often impatient, and He’s just really good at being patient. If we don’t have something we think we need right now, maybe it’s because we don’t really need it right now, and not having it immediately is allowing God to give us something infintely more valuable than the “it” – things like a more rooted faith, more patience, or more joy that doesn’t depend on “it” but on Him. These are the sort of lessons that are learned while we count slowness. Even if I don’t have what everybody else has by my age, I have a learning experience and a God experience that is more precious than that temporary and finite thing everyone else has by now.

I’m going to finish writing this and still go and count slowness, that’s how we are and it’s ok, we’re learning.

Church leaders and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It is possible for a church leader to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Usually, a leader with NPD will lead the church as more of a cult rather than a true church. This is why it is important for church members to be aware of NPD in order to be able to identify it in leaders and take measures to protect themselves.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder has 9 traits. Church leaders with at least 5 of the traits are diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If a church leader has less than 5 of the traits, they have narcissistic traits, but not the complete disorder. Those with all 9 traits are diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and as psychopaths. The higher the number of traits, the more dangerous the church leader can be.

The 9 traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are:

1. Grandiosity 

The church leader has an unrealistic view of themselves. They see themselves as larger than life and holier than others in the church – even holier than other church leaders in the city. They feel that they are as important to the church as God is to them. They believe they have a very powerful and divine purpose and everyone is less important and must listen and submit to his/her purpose and mission. Nothing in church is more important than they are. They organize several prayer meetings to pray and intercede just for them. Sick and struggling church members are forced to intercede for the leader and get very little attention in prayer, even if their need is great. The church leader’s need is always greater. The church leader makes sure that preaching topics are often about their ministry gift (pastor, teacher, apostle, prophet), and on how all the church members must obey and submit to them. To disobey them is to disobey God Himself and to summon curses and demons upon oneself. Their very being is to be admired and obeyed by the church and those who do not admire and obey them are subject to fear tactics to force obedience. They often insist that the church must give them double honor, often in the form of money, gifts, and reverence.

2. Arrogant and Domineering

The church leader sees others as inferior to them in intelligence or in anything else. Therefore, they believe they can control and manipulate others in the church to use them to serve their purposes – and this is what they do. They control every aspect of a church member’s life, demanding obedience to them for every part of their life. The church leader is in charge of what car or house you can buy, what school to send your kids to, and who you can marry. The church leader arrogantly boasts in themselves and anything else that makes them look good during his/her sermons. If someone tries to correct the church leader on an error, they get arrogantly opposed and reproved for not being submissive and showing them honor.

3. Preoccupation with Success and Power

The church leader needs to feel powerful and in control. They need to feel like a king or queen who sits on a throne above the church. They desire success and power in order to get into higher positions (in business, society) where they can spread their throne of control and manipulation to have things their way. The church leader is always preoccupied with tithing and with collecting enough money from the church members. There is lots of talk about money collection during services. The leader checks to see if each person is giving their ten percent. Those who are not are ridiculed publicly or punished privately and subject to fear tactics to get them to give more money. This money collection drives their need for success and power. The leader is also preoccupied with being successful in business. The leader speaks of opening new businesses and can use talents of church members to start new businesses and profit using them. It’s all because of their hunger for success and power.

4. Lack of empathy

The church leader is unable to genuinely care about the feelings of others or put themselves in someone else’s shoes in an emotional way. This results in them mocking others, putting others down during their sermon, or making out of place comments about others. They never feel wrong about it either. A narcissistic leader has a cold empathy which allows them to understand your fears, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. They are very good at reading all this about you. They sometimes use their human reading abilities and mask it into a “prophecy”. They then take everything they can read about you and then use it all against you to control you to do as they want. If they know yours fears, they know how to use fear to control you. If you fear God’s judgment on your family or demons, this is what they’ll use to make sure you obey them. If they know your hopes and dreams, they’ll tell you to obey their every order or else those dreams wont happen.

5. Belief of being unique

They believe that they have a very special calling and that they are better than any other church leader in town. Their church is the one true church in town and all the others are outside of God’s will for you. We’ve already touched on this aspect a bit earlier so we’ll carry on.

6. Sense of entitlement

The church leader feels that they are entitled to anything and anyone’s time or money. They feel entitled to getting church members to doing things for them for free, because they alone are God’s chosen king who must be served. They encourage church members to serve them or else they wont be blessed by God. They invade and take over the lives of church members, using them for their personal benefit.  There is rarely any appreciation when people do anything for them because they believe they were entitled to it in the first place.  They rarely lift a finger to help out with work that needs to be done in church. They believe they are entitled to let other “servants” do it.

7. Requires excessive admiration

The church leader wants to be admired and paid attention to at all times because they need to have their false self validated, the one that they portray in public. They need the church to pay attention to them, to complement them, to admire them, and to worship them. The want the church in constant prayer for them to keep the members focused on them. It is the only way the illusion of their false self can stay strong.

8. Exploitative

The church leader will take advantage of church members for their own best interests. They will use the talents of the church members to create their own businesses or to get things done for them personally. They will get church members to take care of their home and their grass. They will get church members to prepare sermons and preach for them, regardless of how busy or overwhelmed that church member is at the time. They will not pay church members for their service. Instead, they tell them it’s all done for God, because they are God’s king. They demand much from church members and use them until they burn out.

9. Envious of others

The church leader will be envious of other leaders in the city and of other churches, and try to compete with them or copy them, even if they believe their church is the best one and only true one in town. They will also think that everyone else is envious of them, because they are so great and worthy to be envied.

Adapted from the “Nine Traits of Narcissism” post found on Gentle Kindness

Sin versus Corruption in Church Leaders

What is the difference between sin and corruption in a church leader? The difference is that the corrupt leader lacks the humility to recognize his/her sins. Therefore, with no recognition of their own sins, corrupt leaders do not recognize any need for repentance or change.

“Corruption is the sin which, rather than being recognised as such and rendering us humble, is elevated to a system; it becomes a mental habit, a way of living. We no longer feel the need for forgiveness and mercy, but we justify ourselves and our behaviours.” – Pope Francis

“Jesus says to his disciples: even if your brother offends you seven times a day, and seven times a day he returns to you to ask for forgiveness, forgive him. The repentant sinner, who sins again and again because of his weakness, will find forgiveness if he acknowledges his need for mercy. The corrupt man is the one who sins but does not repent, who sins and pretends to be Christian, and it is this double life that is scandalous.” – Pope Francis

corruption

The mountain of God

By Francis Frangipane from his book titled “The Shelter of the Most High”

Israel had many sacred places — the tabernacle in the wilderness, the temple in Jerusalem, and various altars men erected to God — but Horeb was unique. Its name meant “desolation.” It was on Mt Horeb that God revealed Himself to Moses and it was to Horeb that Elijah fled when all he knew to do had failed.

Horeb was “the mountain of God.”
As a geographic and historic place, Horeb was weighty with spiritual significance. Yet the reality symbolized by Horeb — that God chose a desolate place and then drew desolate men there to meet with Him — is a truth that resonates yet today. Horeb’s message is this: the Lord does not turn away from our desolation; He comes to redeem it. 

At Horeb God refines us. Our lives simplify and focus on those few things which are most important. Beloved, you know you are at Horeb when God cuts you back to the root source of your spiritual life, and you are inwardly repelled by the superficial distractions of modern Christianity. You become desperate for more of God.

You will not become a better person at Horeb. For Horeb is not about the perfection of self; it’s about the abandonment of self. It is about the discovery that in us — in our successes and our failures — there dwells “no good thing.” We do not have to perform but conform to the surrendered life of Christ. 

Not everyone who walks with God goes through a Horeb experience. Some knew desolation prior to their salvation and now know only thanksgiving to God. Some may have actually been through Horeb but not identified it as such. 

At Horeb the morphine of religion wears off, and we can once again feel our pain. Reality manifests. We see ourselves in the light of God, and as we do, we fall upon Christ the cornerstone (Luke 20:18). Though “broken to pieces,” we are finally fit to be used by God.

For those who are even now at Horeb, I urge you to let your soul open and your pain rise to God. He knows. He sees. He feels your bewilderment and regret. Whatever He says, do it. When you leave Horeb, He will have brought you to a level you previously thought unattainable.

Recall the infusion of life that Moses and Elijah, the men of Horeb, each experienced beyond their season of desolation. Both experienced a type of the resurrection that is to come (Jude; 1 King 20). And in a mystery beyond our comprehension, it was these two Horebites who appeared in splendorous glory and spoke with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-3).

Horeb, once the place of desolation, is redeemed and revealed as a gateway to God. It is here, in brokenness and fearless honesty, where God brings wholeness of soul.

Horeb is the mountain of God. And once here, we are just steps away from the shelter of the Most High.
O living God, I bow before You. I confess my abject need of You. My guard is down, my actor is dead, and with him I fear my dreams are also gone. Yet you give dreams even to old men. You are the Resurrection. I cast myself upon You, O great God of my salvation. Draw me into Your holy shelter, and renew me.