IT’S BEEN 44 MONTHS SINCE I GAINED MY INDEPENDENCE…
Independence from toxic leaders who:
- Misuse a believer’s love for God, and the desire to obey Him, for their own greedy and selfish gain
- Preach a controversial doctrine that appeals to one’s pride and makes the followers feel like they have knowledge no one else has
- Intimidate anyone who might question their behavior, decisions, expenditures, or doctrine
- Live a double standard and rebuke others for the very same sinful behavior they flaunt
- Lord it over others and demand respect rather than earn it
- Use word games, omissions, exaggerations, minimizations, insinuations, lies, threats and half-truths in order to hide the simple truth
- Justify and defend spiritual abuse as “God’s discipline”
- Call good evil and evil good as a result of arrogance and elitism
- Quote scripture out of context to silence those who might try to hold them accountable
- Shame and shun in an attempt to manipulate and gain an advantage
- Display a perverted sense of self-righteousness resulting in hypercritical and judgmental attitudes towards anyone who doesn’t interpret scripture the way they do
- Control the sheep and cause them to mistrust their ability to hear His voice, manipulating them into a position of depending on the leader to hear from God for them
- Preach a graceless Christianity that views our Heavenly Father as a demanding taskmaster requiring the law to be kept to secure one’s salvation
- Suggest one’s salvation is in jeopardy if not obedient to their demands
- Require that followers report every dollar spent, instilling in them a fear that any purchase would be examined and declared selfish or inappropriate, all the while that very leader lives a life of affluence
- Create a culture where members “have everything in common” so they can tithe 35-50% of their income but still feel like they never give enough
- Have to know everything about your life, requiring you to “check in” with another sister or with leadership so you always “walk in the light as He is in the light,” confessing every negative thought or question as a rebellious bitter root against leadership and God
Oh. My. Goodness.
Dictionary.com defines independence as:
Freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
For 12 years of my adult life, after being a believer for 13 years, I became vulnerable to deception and allowed a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a toxic leader, to weasel his way into my life. He controlled and influenced my life in a way that literally cost me everything but my faith.
And I thought I was following God.
That’s the scary part.
Just compiling this list and realizing what I’ve survived causes such joy to flood my soul, but at the same time it strikes terror. Most people who experience this type of leadership survive with such deep wounds that they completely walk away from God as a result.
This celebration of independence takes on new meaning when I consider what I am no longer dependent on.
Thank You, Jesus.
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