A difficult subject in the church today is the one of Spiritual abuse. I believe this falls into one of two categories: Intended abuse and unintended abuse. Intended abuse comes within the territory of cults and mega or television ministries where the leader is pragmatically sucking the sheep dry for his/her popular gain. Unintended abuse is much more common and is bred out of poor training and discipleship, business model leadership, misdirection (not focus on shepherding and flourishing but ‘stuff of earth’), and spiritual immaturity.
People get used, abandoned, thumped with rules and commands, ignored, and devalued.
The Great shepherd knew His sheep. He provides, PROTECTS, and desires for them to flourish. They are not just a supply of meat and wool.
To read more read this article:
Defining Spiritual Abuse
“I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.” Henri Nouwen
My heart grieves for Mark Driscoll. If you know anything about the enneagram, I am fairly confident Mr. Driscoll is an 8. Eights are powerful, leaders, visionaries, and its my way or the highway. They deny their vulnerability and need to dominate others. They need to admit weakness. (Summary of Alice Fryling’s thoughts in Conversations magazine)
My frustration with Mark Driscoll’s situation is that he publicly has admitted to his sins and invited accountability. Was it all perfect? No, of course not, ministry is messy inside and out. Driscoll recently resigned his post as Lead pastor and shared that he and his family have had to move multiple times and his children had rocks thrown at them. Like many of you, I am sure you can share stories where you have had to deal with an 8. I understand what it means to be verbally abused, intimidated, tossed aside and had your expectations squelched and diminished. You can understand the desire for justice and to be avenged. Many pastors and former staff have aired their complaints publicly and privately. But Mr. Driscoll seemed to have tried to be repentant and to make adjustments. It appears as if he was trying to represent his true self and not his false self. This is difficult for a person who used today’s technology to its fullness in order to sow his message and now is being judged by the same consumers who drank deep of his videos, books, and tweets. (He reportedly had almost half a million on twitter)
As each of us follows the way of Jesus, we are reminded life’s twists and turns can be a great leveler. Whatever your enneagram number, status of life, area of ministry and service we need to remember to be honest with our ‘true self’ to try to adjust our life to what Nouwen encourages us to live a life that is irrelevant. Perhaps the tension with Mark Driscoll is that he had become too relevant to himself and his ministry. Mr. Nouwen lived out his words as he gave up notable positions and went to live with disabled adults.
I am reminded of the words of another 8 who wore camel hair and ate crunchy locusts and said of his messianic cousin, ‘I must decrease that you (Christ) may increase.” May we all seek to be more of an ‘irrelevant self’.
Mr. Driscoll I hope you find the Lord of the Wilderness and rest in Him!
Resurrection Sunday is quickly coming upon us. Are you preparing? Jehovah created rhythms for the Jewish people to celebrate and to remember. The betrayal, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are tied into this rhythm. We are to be reflective.
Spiritual direction is the process where a trained listener helps clarify one’s thoughtful expression of a life in God.
“Are you listening?” cries the father character in Distracted, a play I saw last weekend in New York. “Name one friend of ours who really listens,” he demands of his wife. ~ by Maggie Jackson. Maggie writes often about the topic of attention and our distractions.
Meeting with a client this morning, they were bombarded with issues that dealt with authority, listening, de-valuing relationships, power and control. Feelings associated with the realization that authority figures only view them as a tool.
I was struck by the distraction. How the reality of these threats and conflicting messages provided a series of distractions which allowed them to not be able to use their energies and focus on doing good.
In reading this quote by Ms. Jackson I also wonder if the Host of Heaven would hear similar comments. “Name one of your creation that really listens to you!”, says the cynical angel.
He is not silent; we are not listening~Out of the Grey
Labor Day is quickly approaching. Most of us are looking forward to the time off and perhaps some down time with family and friends. I always thought it funny that it is labor day but we take off work. Sounds like a mom warning her family,”ok, everybody this Saturday is labor day we are going to clean the garage!” I think in Europe it is probably ‘labor week’, they know how to take time off!
Western culture focuses so much on pragmatism, work =a good life. We fall into what is called the Sacred and Secular split dividing the spiritual from the physical. For many at the end of a work day breeds feelings of emptiness and discontent. One’s life becomes myopic and usually focused on pleasing others.
What does it look like to tend our soul and spiritual conversations that transcend our work, family, and leisure? How does one refocus and create a healthy life where work is re-framed in proper perspective?
Spiritual direction refers to the ministry of soul care in which a gifted and experienced Christian helps another person to grow in relationship with and obedience to God by following the example of Jesus Christ. The goals of spiritual direction are threefold: knowing, being, doing.~ james Wilhoit
Many focus on the doing but i find many find it challenging to understand being. We are easily defined by our work or title, not by who we are. Spiritual direction presses in beyond the veneer of the doing to explore the spiritual inner being (yes, you have one).
“Cecelia Overhold forgave her husband Roy now and again as they traveled the broken terrain of their marriage” from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.
When you walk through difficult woods, recently plowed fields, or a broken sidewalk your attention goes to your footing. If your journey is long through such difficult areas it can become cumbersome and frustrating. We can be so consumed with care in which we walk that can be distracted by the beauty and peace around us. While hiking in the Grand Canyon on ice is was often concerned about my next step, rightly so, but when walking in the canyon you literally miss the changing view of splendor.
I have met and walked with many people who are traveling the broken terrain of life and forget to look up and be reminded of the goodness of life, community, and beauty.
As a soulgardener, my hope and desire is to help others to pick their eyes up from their difficult journey and see the hope of walking with the One who gives peace and beauty to their life.
“A lowly person is a teachable person, easily entreated and open to explanation. Many of our spirits are too arrogant: they can teach others but can never themselves be taught. Many possess a stubborn spirit: they stick to their opinions even if they realize they are wrong.” Watchman Nee
Reading through the Biblical book of Ezekiel is flat out depressing. The stark stubbornness of God’s people is overwhelming. I picture in my mind that little 4 year old standing with his arms crossed, lip sticking out, and eyes resolute, “NO!”.
It represents to me the challenges in helping people to grow in the grace of Christ. Because the Western church focuses on salvation and not maturity it is as if the church stands with its arms crossed and says, “No!”.
Spiritual direction helps aid one who is teachable and hungry for a more authentic and sustainable faith. Spiritual conversation helps relax our willingness for God through His Spirit to form us and deepen us.
Do you have a stubborn spirit? A legalistic spirit? Enjoy His Grace!
“What’s it like in your world?” Charlie Peacock
“I wish someone would just hear me!”, “I wish I had someone who could listen to me and help think through this!”, “Is God hearing me?”
Being a spiritual director is not some magical guru who has all the answers and knows the future. But we are trained at hearing and listening with a discerning ear. Disciplined at listening to fellow journeyman and to the Spirit of God. Providing tools and practices to help one navigate through the story of their life in God.
Having something you want to say? I’m listening…
Creation is God’s constant gentle reminder that He has been and continues to be involved in our lives. And that He is available. Christmas, with all the decorations and gifts, is another passive gentle reminder of God’s incarnational desire to be among us and that He is available to us. That as we go we are drawn to be with Him. It is a passive spiritual direction.