The Space Between Continued…

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Faith, Ranting, Raw Faith, Spiritual Abuse

10:22 am, Friday 7/22/11

Several years ago I wrote a post called The Space Between.  I had just reconnected with a dear friend who had previously been a pastor’s wife. I had been thinking about why in the church we allow pastors sometimes to get away with behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated by normal people in the congregation, when I do believe they should be held to a higher standard. I have known many amazing pastors who faithfully pastor their churches and love their families. I have also known a lot of pastors who were control freaks and treated their families horribly either through neglect or brutalizing and controlling them emotionally. 

So many times I watched their families suffering in silence while those close to them either didn’t recognize what was going on behind closed doors or chose to look the other way “for the sake of the ministry” or because they didn’t feel like they had the right to “rebuke” their pastor.  Too many times I stayed quiet hoping and praying for a genuine repentance from the pastor.  In retrospect that silence was probably the most unloving thing I could have done to the pastors and their family.  These pastors were men I loved and prayed for, worked along side of and loved their families. I should have been willing to wade right into the mess even more than I did… like I would have done for any of my other friends.

Increasingly with the growth of social media, I’m seeing pastors use their blogs or Facebook pages to attack other people, ministries or Christian leaders in a way that is bullying or mean-spirited.  I do think we can disagree with each other without carelessly wounding at the same time. Some of the media I’ve seen reminds me too much of what I saw some of the pastors I knew personally doing in their own homes. 

When I originally posted that blog years ago I got some angry responses from people suggesting that I was bashing pastors and I had no right to criticize them.  Some of the responses were pretty extreme. My point then and now wasn’t to bash pastors at all. But it was to point out that sometimes the most loving thing we can do for men who are not able to lovingly care for their families or their extended  church family is to remove them from ministry and help them to get their own lives in balance instead.  At the time I was amazed at how few people expressed any concern for the pastor’s families or what they endured.

Recently, some bloggers posted a response to a well-known pastor’s Facebook entry suggesting that he was a bully for using his social media to belittle a group of people, and for his history of previous sermons and blog posts that were also questionable. A huge firestorm of criticism erupted on those who disagreed with him.  As believers  sometimes we need to stand up for those who are being wounded, especially in the name of “ministry”.  I think that God is passionate about His people and that He doesn’t appreciate them being torn apart in the name of just making a joke, illustrating some bitchin’ sermon series, or stirring up controversy to help the sales of the speakers next book.  Regardless of the criticism I might get I would still rather err on the side of caring for the ones who are being wounded.

My heart also goes out to the pastors who are human like the rest of us… broken like the rest of us… and are in need of healing grace and mercy. Over the years I’ve grown a thicker skin, but my heart is still tender and I never want to lose that. 

What do you think… do you think we should hold our leaders accountable for how they treat others? Shouldn’t we love them enough to confront them and try to help them?

  1. mistavista says:

    Linda, i agree whole-heartedly with your post…regardless of the time frame in which it was written…while there are those that might think that pastors, or their families, don’t need prayer…they are the ones that probably need it the most…the last that i heard, there aren’t ANY pastors that have achieved god-hood, and thus, therefore, must be accountable for their daily actions…i totally agree with your personal blurb about yourself at the end of your post…take care, my friend…hope to see you soon…

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