Fourteen Symptoms of Toxic Church Leaders

October 1, 2014

Most church leaders are godly and healthy. A toxic church leader, one that is figuratively poisonous to the organization, is rare. But it is that church leader who brings great harm to churches and other Christian organizations. And it is that leader that hurts the entire cause of Christ when word travels about such toxicity.

In my Monday post, I noted the traits of long-term, healthy pastors. I now travel to the opposite extreme and provide symptoms of the worst kind of church leaders, toxic church leaders.

  1. They rarely demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Paul notes those specific attributes in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t see them much in toxic leaders.
  2. They seek a minimalist structure of accountability. Indeed, if they could get away with it, they would operate in a totally autocratic fashion, with heavy, top down leadership.
  3. They expect behavior of others they don’t expect of themselves. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
  4. They see almost everyone else as inferior to themselves. You will hear them criticizing other leaders while building themselves up.
  5. They show favoritism. It is clear that they have a favored few while they marginalize the rest.
  6. They have frequent anger outbursts. This behavior takes place when they don’t get their way.
  7. They say one thing to some people, but different things to others. This is a soft way of saying they lie.
  8. They seek to dismiss or marginalize people before they attempt to develop them. People are means to their ends; they see them as projects, not God’s people who need mentoring and developing.
  9. They are manipulative. Their most common tactic is using partial truths to get their way.
  10. They lack transparency. Autocratic leaders are rarely transparent. If they get caught abusing their power, they may have to forfeit it.
  11. They do not allow for pushback or disagreement. When someone does disagree, he or she becomes the victim of the leader’s anger and marginalization.
  12. They surround themselves with sycophants. Their inner circle thus often includes close friends and family members, as well as a host of “yes people.”
  13. They communicate poorly. In essence, any clarity of communication would reveal their autocratic behavior, so they keep their communications unintelligible and obtuse.
  14. They are self-absorbed. In fact, they would unlikely see themselves in any of these symptoms.

Yes, toxic leaders are the distinct minority of Christian leaders. But they can do harm to the cause of Christ disproportionate to their numbers. And they can get away with their behavior for years because they often have a charismatic and charming personality. Charming like a snake.

Do you know of any toxic church leaders? Do these symptoms seem familiar?


photo credit: Daniel Y. Go via photopin cc

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183 Comments

  • Bible? The Scripture has a great deal to say about this topic, the list above contained one passage, the rest is based upon experience, stories, what? Just curious?

  • Annonymous says on

    Like Hunter questioned above, I, too, am curious how to deal with a toxic leader or two. I am a pastor and I am concerned that toxicity on my leadership team is deeply hurting our church and I don’t know what to do. How do I lovingly, graciously, and gently resist the toxicity and encourage other leaders to do the same?

  • Anonymous says on

    I “inherited” a church that had been under this type of leadership for about ten years. He had purposefully starved the church of deacons and ruled the church board with an iron fist. He served up syrupy sweet “put on a happy face” messages with no depth and little Christ, spiritually stunting a generation. He frequently had the church help his grown children financially, filled out his own W-2, and ran a building project over budget and into the ground before resigning due to illness. I am still fighting the fight of restoring these people, teaching them how to think for themselves, training leaders.

    Our sole deacon, a man in his 70’s, stood and tearfully confessed to me how he had been misled by this man and how, “he wasn’t who I thought he was.” I cannot tell you how righteously indignant I have been about the mess he left, financially and spiritually. It is all can I do to be decent to the man after what he’s done.

  • There is so much truth here. My soon-to-be husband and I lead a youth group and have worked in the ministry for three years now. We’ve already seen this behavior destroy people and have been praying constantly that we would be the kind of leaders that honor our spiritual authority, our students and God Himself. Thank you so much for posting!

  • I served for 14 years under one of these pastors, I actually outlasted him in our church. The traits you list in this article were spot on, almost like a case study of my pastor.

    I also read your article on the 29th about longevity… I do think there is one factor missing in that article: call to ministry.

    There were MANY times in my 14 years with my toxic pastor that I wanted to throw in the towel and quit – but – I never felt the release from God as I prayed through the situation. He kept bringing me back again and again to the fact that I was called to this church and that He had specific ministry for me to do and that as long as I was faithful to His call, He would look out for me. (We aren’t ever promised and easy path – in fact, it is in adversity that He refines us and makes us what He wants us to be)

  • Excellent post. I’ve probably seen most of these. I spent over 30 years as an associate and have now been a lead pastor for two years. I am struck by the constant temptation to yield to these character flaws. Keeps me on my knees and I try to be quick to apologize whenever I cross the line in these areas – which I have from time to time, deeply grieving my heart. Pray for your senior pastor. The temptations of power coupled with high expectations are many.

  • Hunter D Johnson says on

    Could you do a follow up post about “How to deal with toxic leaders”?

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Hunter –

      It’s a good idea. The primary need is to have courageous people confront toxic leaders. I’ll need to think about offering suggestions beyond that.

      • I’d like to contribute to the suggestions.

        Courage is no substitute for age or annual donation amount when being listened to.

        Having said that, most parents (at least in the 70s and 80s) did not want to cause problems in the churches (thinking they were being respectful of their elders) and so disregarded the children saying to them that the sermon was boring. (Children were automatically dismissed as thinking everything was boring.) Those parents abdicated teaching the children for their own benefit of a higher level sermon and intra-church peace. I know sometimes that sermons can be boring but if the children tell you every Sunday that they got nothing from the sermon and would rather be at the dentist, then listen to them. If enough people say that the sermons are boring and are not teaching anything, perhaps the preacher needs some help. If people say that the preacher seems angry, permit speaking up. It is difficult to learn anything from an angry preacher.

        If teenagers are telling you that their questions about defending the faith, God, and difficult topics like why bad things happen to good people are being dismissed, speak up. Why has this been acceptable for so long? If teens and college students are berated for having differing ideas (aka too liberal), speak up. Jesus was a liberal who bucked the establishment and it got him killed. The church does not need to become the Pharisaical establishment.

        I am very familiar with Judaism and last week was Rosh Hashanah. One of the large local temples had an outdoor family service and I was told by colleagues that the rabbi’s sermon actually made sense to them. What was even more surprising was that they said their children even said how good it was and that they could comprehend it. This is amazing. Someone preached a sermon and young kids thought it was good. Some of those kids don’t realize how lucky they are to get a sermon that they could understand.

      • Thanks Hunter for that suggestion.
        Yes, Thom……there are probably more churches out there than we can imagine that are dealing with a toxic leader or leaders; be it another elder or a pastor and because we who are on the front lines of leadership do not deal with these kinds of church problems on a regular basis, we are in need of guidance from those who may have greater insight and experience.
        I can think of what might be two parts of the equation and they are:
        First make sure that your approach is ALWAYS based on scripture. Scripture cannot be refuted and does not need defended. If scripture says it…..end of discussion.
        Secondly, the rest of leadership needs to be united and have the courage to confront the individual or individuals as a united front.
        Toxic individuals in leadership need to be confronted in love, asked to repent (and possibly publically since they are in leadership and may have offended members of the flock), and if they refuse, the united front then needs to request or demand their resignation.
        No one is perfect, but a leader that continually displays very many of these traits without a shred of a repentant heart has no business being in a position of leadership of any kind within God’s church.

      • Friends of ours have recently confronted leaders who were displaying some of these characteristics. They have now been put out of fellowship by those leaders.
        Should they have left the church rather than wait to be put at as “divisive”?
        It is horrendous to see this done, to see someone’s reputation shredded to pieces, and see others believing it without ever hearing both sides.

      • Grace, we went through this in the most dark and painful way. MANY congregants wanted answers and got none. There was one man in the church that was “targeted” and he held his ground. He has absolute proof that the pastor was a liar and bore false witness. Through much prayer and waiting on the Lord, he tried to follow Matt. 18 but the pastor refused “taking it to the church” The sheep were scattered with no loving response from leadership what so ever. Most are resettled in other churches. The scars remain. BUT God in His great love and mercy has blessed the scattered sheep and led them to greener pastures. I found the blog Joyful Exiles by Jona Petri very healing. God’s people are commanded to hear both sides of an arguement (Proverbs 18), and Proverbs 15:22 tells us that in the multitude of counselors there is safety. NO outside counsel was called. It was the most diabolical thing I had ever seen.

    • This would be a greatly needed article! My husband and I have been in lay ministry for over 20 years, he longer than I. We moved to a new town and for many years continued to drive 1 1/2 hours to our previous congregation. We’ve spent 12 years trying to find where God wants us and have found many toxic churches. I think those that have known no different can’t see the small tear downs and belittling. We have recently been “removed” from all leadership roles from the last church we had been trying to belong to. I say trying to because even though a small church, needing members to grow, it is impossible to get into the “inner circle”. While promoting non-denominational, non-separating/division, they really don’t let anyone in. My husband and I started hearing complaints of the pastor’s control, defensive reactions and outbursts from other leaders. Their frustration led them to be paralyzed. They had given up trying to do what they thought was the right things to do for the church body and just let the pastor get his own way. My husband was put on the board, however found very quickly that no one disagreed with the pastor’s desires, wants or ideas. (Except him). My husband is a very steadfast person with great discernment. We started to look to scripture to help this board stand for what was right. We started hearing concerning statements in the pastor’s preaching. “Grow up, don’t suck”, ” and here’s the Good News: grow up don’t suck”, “ of you don’t have any friends, it may be because you’re sucking the life out of them”, “ you need to feed yourself, I’m not here to feed you”, “if you’re just here taking up space, we don’t want you. Go to another church and take up space there”. We sat with our pastor and discussed these things with him. He saw nothing wrong with any of his comments and just stated he didn’t think that was his preaching all the time. We left the meeting in good terms and agreed to let him and us have time to decide the best course of action. One month later, after speaking to another board member ( who would be considered the associate pastor) and my husband asking the board when the next meeting was scheduled as there where some items on the table they hadn’t resolved….. the pastor freaked out that my husband was asking for a meeting to have him fired…. the pastor called and said we were dismissed from all leadership roles. Stating our vision did not match the vision of church. He, after many times of the board, and individuals asking, has never explained the churches vision. So many warning signs of a toxic church and those remaining only care the church continues to have a pastor in place. (They have had years of rotating leadership). There are others who have left the church, before and after us. We are fine emotionally… having had many years in ministry, but have concerned for the “seekers” this church reaches out to. My hope and prayer is that God will buffer their ears and hearts from the brutal comments made by this man. What could we have done differently? What could we still do? We went to the Bishop of the denomination that bases this “non denominational church”. We were told that nothing could even be considered unless the entire board came to him to discuss the pastor. One who had left because of the defensive actions of the pastor did go to the Bishop to confirm what we had shared. Of course the entire board won’t go for fear they will all be removed!

  • I recently served on staff at a church with a toxic leader. He could put a check mark by at least 8 of the points on the list on a regular basis (and unfortunately that is being generous). Many pastors are able to “get away with it” because they are charming and therefore people just seem to “like” them. I think another unfortunate way some pastors “get away with it” is because of undying, and sadly undeserved, congregation loyalty.

    I want to be careful here because I am definitely in the camp that believes that the Bible clearly sets pastors/elders as the under-shepherds and leaders of the church. Just as you mention often Dr. Rainer, pastors are pushed out of pastorates far too often and for far too many petty reasons. However there are the few exceptions when the pastor has done nothing to earn the trust of the congregation yet they blindly follow simply “because he’s the pastor and he knows best.” As my current pastor says, “If I’m leading well and the church is healthy and growing, then let me lead! If the church isn’t healthy then let’s sit down and address the issues.”

    The church I mentioned earlier has unquestionably stood by their pastor as the church crumbles around them. The membership has been cut in half, almost all savings are gone and more than one youth pastor has resigned because of the issues related to the senior pastor. In situations like this, congregations need to be aware that they may be dealing with a “toxic leader” and they need to address those issues for the good of their local church, the good of that pastor that has be lead astray and for the good of the Kingdom.

  • First, no one is going to show all of them. Some show 1, 2, or 3 of the list. The problem becomes confounded when the toxic leader only shows some of the listed characteristics to certain people. Thus, to his friends he is great. This really causes a problem when those who have seen his other side don’t like it and finally speak up. They are then accused of fomenting dissent and unchristian behavior. The toxic leader almost always has supporters who will defend him to the end. Thus, the dislike of his actions has become personal.

    Numbers 5 and 12 are the ones I have seen most often. Many people don’t have a voice when someone like that is in charge. Only listening to one’s friends and disregarding all others is a recipe for disaster, as is occurring in churches right now where they have no one from 20-40 in attendance. I saw this far too often.

    I wish to add one more. They don’t have “guts.” For all the bad things they do, they are weak people who don’t have the guts to stand up for the marginalized. They do not consider anyone but their friends of the same age group. They refuse to listen to the sermon as a child would and when they can get nothing out of it, they say nothing to the preacher about it. When the preacher or speaker of the day rails against the youth, they keep quiet rather than tell him that he was being extreme.

    I don’t say this lightly. I have so wished and prayed that someone with power or a large donor would speak up and defend those who aren’t large donors, like those who are younger. If you don’t condemn actions like that, you condone it. This can run off Christians faster than you can imagine.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Good insights and perspectives. Thanks, Mark.

    • Oh Mark, I wish that were true, but “pastors’ who operate in what Thom is talking about may very well have all 14 characteristics, I can tell you the one I’m thinking about definitely does. No this is not my regular pastor, who is imperfect and fine. This is a ministry leader who follows Thoms’ pattern to a T.

      • I could tell you that the #1 problem in our parish is the priest, but I’m beginning to think that he has become a pawn to a very talented, very powerful, and – I would add – very devious liturgical director. This person has all but ruined my prospects, advancement, opportunities, and reputation in my parish (I am a music minister) in oh so subtle ways . . . primarily, I believe, for my honesty. I’m afraid she’s got the pastor wrapped around her little pinky . . . To imagine how or why terrifies me. I’m not only almost gone from this parish of over ten years; I’m almost gone from this religion.

      • Just turned in my resignation from our church of 17 years. I can tell you….it is very possible for a pastor and pastors to display all 14 characteristics. After reading the list I said its almost as if I had written it myself. Several years ago i would have denied it because i had become so comfortable in my marginalized life…but now that I see what happened, it disgusts me. My wife and I have found a new fellowship, and healing has begun.

    • Charles Logan Hunter says on

      Actually, yes, someone indeed can display all 14 characteristics. We’ve had a new pastor less than a year and he is currently displaying each and every one of those traits. I’ve shown the list above to a few people and everyone who reads it is startled at how accurate the list is.

      An even bigger problem is the pastor has a board of elders he has successfully gathered into his pocket – except one; and pastor and board seem determined to find a way to remove that one from the board.

      My question is, What can we do about it? With the board in his pocket, the church has no constitutional power to remove any of them, and members who have been attending literally for decades are quickly being driven away. We’ve been trying to fight it, but it seems we can only sit back and watch him/them either destroy our church or turn it into a cult.

      • At first I thought someone from the church I attend had written the above. Our new pastor of 2 plus years has taken total control of the church. Hand selects the elders to try and surround himself with yes men. Elder meetings are where elders are told what decisions have been made by the staff. Almost no one speaks except the pastor and if you raise a voice of concern you are shut down or ignored. He has little patience for questions about any of his decisions. Just says it has already been decided and moves on with the rest of the elders sitting in silence. Changed the wording on the way the church is structured to read that the elders are not to be involved in decisions unless the staff deems it necessary. When I protested, as an elder, to some of the things I viewed as a power grab, the length of elder term was shortened and I was out.
        Most church ministry teams were dissolved and final decisions are made by the pastor. They do not discuss financial decisions with finance and in elder meetings he just says ” giving is up” (barely )and moves on. Even though they have a full financial report in front of them, no discussion is allowed. My wife, finance chair, was sent an email that informed her that her services were no longer needed and to turn over all control. This is a woman who is a CFO with 40 plus years of accounting background, who keeps the books for four companies. Her sin was asking about doing an audit and asking to look at pastoral and employee credit card receipts. She also expressed some concerns about possible conflicts of interest with the way the pastor was handling some other matters. She turned everything in the next day as requested after making sure everything was reconciled. They do not have a replacement at this time so now the pastor has access to everyone’s giving statements (something that had historically be kept private).

      • Our family actually transferred from a church nearly a year ago where the pastor displays all 14 characteristics. Without going into too much detail, we had seen red flags throughout the 6 years we were members, and when we finally went to the pastor to help him see these inconsistencies in an attempt to help him and the church, we were labeled gossipers, fault-finders and grumblers. Basically, we had exposed him and he began to demonize us. When we informed him of a transfer, he threatened us with church discipline if we didn’t meet with him. He wrote total lies about us to our new pastor telling this pastor that he should not let us join his church. Fortunately, our new pastor recognized something was wrong when we weren’t described with any kind of graces. Thankfully, we found a book on narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in pastors entitled, “Let Us Prey”, and it explained everything. Sadly, the statistics are something like 5% of the population has NPD, but it runs about 30% with pastors! These people crave positions of authority that they can wield over others. Thank you, Mr. Rainer, for pointing out these succinct symptoms of a toxic pastor.

  • Bob Ward says on

    Thank you for this article at this time. I have a list of leaders in my past who fit this list like a store bought suit. Is it more prevalent in the extremes, i.e. smaller rural congregations and very large urban ministries?
    When you hear of this mentioned in other circles it seems that is the case most of the time. When I hear of it, my automatic reaction is to Thank God for my Pastor who is NOT like this at all. I am developing a larger sense of gratitude for all Pastors and church leaders who are NOT like this!
    To that end, October is Pastor Appreciation month. Thom, thank you for being a Pastors’ Pastor!
    Bob

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Bob –

      I love your heart. Your pastor is blessed to have you in the church. Thank you.

      • I am a very confused church member.
        Once was a Sunday school teacher.
        I went to a church for almost 8 years. Thought I had a great Sunday school teacher and pastor. It’s been a joke. What they have done to me and my soul is awful. I feel like I am just a number. One lies and another an adulterous.
        Makes me shudder. I don’t take church as a club. I take it serious.
        I don’t know if I will ever recover.

      • Hi Kay, sorry to hear this has been happening to you. How have you been lately?

  • Chris Russell says on

    Great post and definatly something that we need to be watching in our own lives and ministries. I agree with all of them but I think there must be some clarity to #5. Showing favoritism is not the same as having people in the church that are close friends while others are not. Too often I think pastors won’t allow themselves to have any friends because they don’t want to show favoritism. Instead we should be showing everyone equal care and concern even if we spend our leisure time with a select few.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Good word. Thanks, Chris.

    • The church I attend and am an elder in is presently dealing with this exact issue. We have one individual on the team of elders that fits nearly all of the mentioned 14 points and the rest of the elder team is in the midst of deciding on how to deal with him scripturally.
      In regards to showing favoritism this particular individual shows favoritism in the way he handles problem situations within the flock. He deals in a completely different manner with his personal friends and relatives than he does other members of the flock; and many in the congregation have noticed these displays of favoritism.
      I believe most members of the flock, do not fault the minister or elders for having a few close friendships within the congregation that they associate casually with. Like all people that’s only natural. Those that do accuse a pastor or elder of this are probably pretty shallow and most likely not very mature spiritually. In fact, I have never even heard of such complaints from anyone within our congregation.

      • Shirley Ashcraft says on

        I’ve seen this happen a lot certain individuals prosper in ministry by getting on the pastor’s side through lying & manipulating the pastor to cut me off. I’m anointed & talented but cut out. If someone is gifted but toxic that person should be ministered to because they may not realize. God is about change & we need to help others do better.

      • I agree with you been through it

      • Still Praying says on

        It is unfortuante that some pastors show favortism to some parishioners that they feel they can manipulate. Our pastor has promoted dancing and playing cards from the pulpit. He has brought swords to church and even twerked(a type of worldly dance) in the church. He hand picks his leaders and they will not challenge him when he obviously does wrong because they want to hold unto their positions.

        God help us all.

      • You chose them, they did not chose you! No one is making you stay there. If you don’t support your Pastor, please leave and don’t criticize him.

      • Elders who participate in the service look as if they are conducting a funeral. They look very unhappy. Someone needs to tell them to smile. Find some joy. Worship God and His love. Visitors are certainly turned off by these elders doom and gloom faces. Its not just once its all the time.

      • Stephanie Williams says on

        Omg It was prayer strong women more prayer our Church just rid ourselves of one such demon.leader. He lied so much we couldn’t be certain what was really true. But what we do know is that after9+ years with a lot of prayer and the pressures of court dates he is gone and we are soooo grateful. Now comes the aftermath of gathering members who left because of him.

      • Can you tell what happen my church is now going through the same but it’s his wife who has gone mad…we believe the pastor is seriously sick…..she is now making all decisions and refusing to talk to the board….she seems to think he owns the church. We hired him he is an employee….

    • I agree that pastors should have friends, some closer than others.
      Even Jesus had a close circle of friends.
      I believe what the article meant was not concerning friendships,
      but rather how the pastor relates to those in the pews.
      It’s one thing to have a friend or an accountability
      partner, which is necessary. It’s a whole different thing to be
      a respector of persons when assigning ministry duties, priviledges, etc..
      No one should be appointed a teacher or a leader or put on staff
      simply because the pastor is their best friend.
      I’ve seen that happen in the church I attended for decades.
      The pastor should be aware of the gifts & callings of those he wishes
      to place in certain ministries….the criteria should be
      simply the leading of the Holy Spirit and the gifts God has placed
      in each person. He could overlook someone that has a certain
      ministry gift simply because that person is not in his inner circle.
      It can be destructive to place someone over a ministry just
      because that person is the pastors prayer/golfing/fishing buddy.
      Do you think those things don’t happen? They do!!
      I’ve seen cases where the leadership complained because the same
      people were doing “all the work”. What they failed to realize was there
      were many that were simply being pushed aside because no one
      recognized the gifts and contributions they could
      have made in certain areas.

      • Right after becoming a member we were given a list of things we could serve in. After indicating several I was never given the chance to serve. Leadership does not see members gifts. After being patient I asked the Pastor where he thought I could serve the church. He never said anything and that goes for Elders I spoke to also. They complain about the same people serving everything but they allow it to continue. People have left because they couldn’t serve.

    • Well Chris, when you pair that #5 with # 12 you will see the point that Thom is making. There is a definite pattern to these “friendships” rather than just having close friends.

      • We have had a strain of leaders following those patterns. Our church is now falling apart. We had one leader who for the most part was a really good pastor like you described. He ended up coming out about being gay and agreeing or choosing to leave the church at which point a town hall q and a meeting was scheduled. He was allowed to have his say and did so in tears. Then the head pastor stood up and said what our church believes on the matter and had paperwork in the back for people to take home. After that happened one by one three more pf the current pastors left. Ever since and before that we have been listening to the 10 steps for how to be a good Christian sermons. We have been regularly told that basically we aren’t doing it and we need to try harder. The message has got to change to allow for forward movement and growth. The message has to be about God, his grace, and how he sees us and the power that comes out of it.

      • Amen, we got sick of hearing about Forgiveness, 95% of the sermons, pretty sure it’s because he thinks we haven’t forgiven him! If we hadn’t forgiven him and tried to make our relationship work we would have left 4 years ago..

    • Sherry says on

      Thank you you confirmed somethings that I am going through on my job. I realize I have to let this person go immediately

    • hurtingdeeply says on

      My Pastor and Wife, whom are in their 70’s, have been at our church going on 4 years. After about a year of knowing them, I became very close to them, at one point they even told me that I was just like family to them and they have a very large scattered family. We would meet out in public at restaurants and have lunch many, many times and they would ask questions about other members and I would feed them what I knew, never realizing until now the damage it would do to me as their friend.

      Over a course of time they have talked about almost every person/family in the church in a negative way. It has always bothered me, I would think to myself that this just is not right, they are the shepherd and wife of the church, they should be doing the exact opposite and not talking people down behind their backs. The sad thing about this is, I allowed myself to become drawn in by this, what I thought to be a sweetheart of a loving couple. I looked up to them (I am 52 years old and separated from my husband).

      It is now that my Pastor has had a heart attack and actually died for a brief moment but they got him back and he is still in the hospital going on 2 weeks now and still very sick. I was the first one there at my Pastor’s wife side that night when she called for me to start the prayer chain. I was there by her side for 2 days until all of their family came in. I then begin to notice that I was not really being treated as “family”. She began to make it quite known to me through her self and a favorite granddaughter that my presence was not welcome at the hospital. But yet, other church members the deacons and leaders (I too have a couple small leadership roles) those that they had talked so badly about are the ones being welcomed and treated differently/better than I am. I just don’t understand, I don’t get it. I have stood for them and by them when it was clear that other church members wanted nothing to do with them. Many actually wanted them out of the church. I made another attempt last night to offer to stop by for just a few moments as I was going to be in town and the Pastor’s wife began making excuses as to why I didn’t need to be there. It hurt me so bad that I finally cried out to the Lord and asked him to help me to understand and just stand back and be supportive from a distance. This isn’t the first time they have treated me differently, it has happened many times over the years that I have grown close to them and so often now wish I was just a simple church member and that I never got to know them as closely as I have. I want to be treated like the other members, welcomed, appreciated, etc.

      • Annonoymous says on

        I totally understand. I am struggling with the same issues. I pray that God gives you direction and guidance, plus some understanding of your situation. I don’t believe God wants us to suffer emotionally or psychologically in that way. Keep the faith, know that God cares and believe he’ll give direction, plus peace, in time.

      • I perfectly understand how you feel. I’m going through the same thing. I’m serving under the leadership of my pastor an his wife, very loving people. I’m also the worship leader in the church. They have 2 handsome lil boys, aged 7 and 3, those boys love me a lot. the couple welcomed me in the church and would hand put with them and family. people even started referring me as their daughter. I grew in word under their leadership but was bothered by the pastor himself being a gossiper. He would backbite everyone, including me. I knew that wasn’t right. I mean even a lot of people in worship team became comfortable doing the same thing. there was a day he was mentioning to me about a lady in church that’s got AIDS and she’s seeing a partner who doesn’t know about her status,. I told him that it’s really none of my business, ’cause i knew where that convo was heading to. Immediately his reaction changed and distant himself from him. He would talk about me to other members of the team that supports what he does, and worship team members wouldn’t even respect me as a worship leader because of what he says about me to them behind my back. i mean this is pastor we’re talking about. due to his flaws, the church is now in division

      • If they talked about others they will talk about you with gossip comes every evil work God said he will set the gossipers with the murderers

      • Amen and they do/have.

      • E Smith says on

        We used to be friends with Assoc Pastor until he said he couldn’t be my driver when I need a procedure. I asked why this date not a good date, he told me it was none of my business he was not my employee. We told some about the incident and they took up for him. This man is hateful. We finally left the church and went back to our home church. I wanted to report him.

      • I’m a preacher of a small church and in the beginning I gave rides to various members who needed them. This gave other people the idea that this was actually “my job” and not just a kindness I was willing to do from time to time. I finally had to stop giving rides at all because it caused more problems giving rides to some versus none at all.
        I don’t know more specifics about your situation but I’ve come to the conclusion that the preacher should not be used for these kinds of things for the above reasons.
        I saw it as a way to get to know people and render a kindness. But when I was putting 5k+ more on my vehicle a year, and spending therefore that much more time away from home for what [in many cases] was nothing more than a transportation service, and it would naturally be inappropriate to charge (then it really does become a business instead of a service), it had to stop.
        I’m sorry for your situation nonetheless. You really did need a ride. Nonetheless, grab that church directory and start with “A”. A ministry in the church with *several* volunteers for this kind of thing is a better solution overall though (for one, it would be sustainable, unlike what I experienced).
        I have found now with experience behind me is that no church member should donate more than 6 hours a week of volunteer time if they are employed full-time. That’s 15%. If they incur expenses in that volunteer time, than a 1/4 to 1/2 of that. Otherwise, the majority of people will burn out. I’ve seen it over and over.

      • Incredible testimony, J S. Thank you.

    • The Pastor at the church I attend has a group of “favorites.” They are his “go along” guys. He brought his personal “buddy” from his former church and quickly made him a deacon. He had board members elected that supported his agenda. He quickly began questioning my abilities as song leader and pianist. He had been pastor for 2 months when he appointed his brother to direct the choir. I had been the pianist and choir director at this church for 20 years I have been a Sunday school teacher at this church for many years. I have coordinated many Easter and Christmas plays and Cantatas. I have directed many summer bible camps and have served as youth director/pastor in the past.
      Yes, I was also a deacon. He began to usurp and undermine all my God given duties at the church. A Sunday school superintendent was appointed/elected that quickly disrupted the scheduled teaching duties of our adult class. He appointed his choir directing brother to teach, who was not “called” or even credentialed. His “buddy” deacon was also appointed to teach. His habitual spending at the church’s expense has been called in to question. His sermons are mostly personal references to himself and his beliefs, not what doth sayeth the “Word of God.” His preservice meetings, before church, are open to anyone as long as you are male, matters not your age or whether you profess to be a Christian. Apparently, he believes that any male figure can be responsible in leading prayer for the church’s well being. He has asked anyone to come “lay on hands and anoint with oil” the sick. You don’t have to be an elder or ordained, just present. He has made many unnecessary purchases for which he has not been held accountable. He lectures the flock on how we aren’t living the Christian life. He accuses his congregation of living a lie and not rising to his standard. He demands the sheep come to his personal altar and seek his (the pastor’s) forgiveness. The church is rapidly approaching “cult” status. I resigned my deaconship long ago. I attend this church only because of other family members. I have only scratched the surface in my account of the atrocities that are committed within this local church. Pray for this beguiled group. God forgive us all.

      • Kim Reardon says on

        He is a Spiritual Narcissist. Pray for wisdom in how to deal with him and God to work in his life. He’s an imposter and apparently doesn’t know God

      • God is no doubt grieved by all this stuff in His churches. Your hurt feelings mean nothing to them so realize that and accept it or leave it. If you stay keep your mouth shut if you love the church.

    • We have a pastor who does all of these. We only have two elders who are stepping down. Many many young families are visiting and stay awhile and leave. There is no depth. The older members are not needed or wanted. It is so strange. He has been there a few years we have been there 18. He says that the church was nothing til he got there and other crazy things. There is no one to go to. The bylaws don’t apply he says. A family member of his does the accounting. What do we do? I want to leave and my husband wants to see the crash. But it may take years to crash.

    • Michael Hanna says on

      Thanks for this post. A healthy church is based on a culture of servant leadership. I have witnessed a sad situation where immature Church leadership took over a church and moved away from servanthood. The church dynamic morphed very quickly to one of control. This was not caused by flesh and blood but principalities and powers of darkness. It is subtle, enemy infiltration. It is underpinned by false doctrine that breeds in the leadership a sense of self entitlement and airs of ecclestical superiority. A sad example is the blending of old testament scriptures like “Thou shalt not touch the Lord’s anointed with the new testament injunction to submit those in authority” Immature leadership then interpret and teach that they can not be questioned on any aspect of their faith. I actually consider the culture has been around a long time. It is my view that it has it’s genesis in Roman Catholicism and the doctrine of papal infalibility. The power structures of the churches today require urgent reformation as they inhibit the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We need to see a prophetic confrontation with these underlying dark forces to ensure that the lost are able to enter in to a personal personal relationship with Jesus Christ, attend a church, grow in Christ, without having to contend with this type of demonic menace.

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