When I was a very little girl of about 6, someone in my family began to exhibit the first warning signs of what would later turn into severe mental illness. My family was made up of good evangelicals who trusted our pastor to point us in the right direction. However, this pastor made a very dangerous decision and instead of encouraging us to seek help from licensed professionals, he encouraged us to view the symptoms as evidence of a spiritual issue.
Years later, I am still living with the trauma of that decision. I believe my life’s story and my family’s story could look completely different today if he had strongly encouraged us to seek help rather than try to set himself up as an expert in a field that he was unqualified for.
This pastor popped up in the news a few years ago for swindling money from someone in his congregation for his business.
The story of how he hurt this couple appeared in my news feed last night, re-triggering a lot of anger and a lot of hurt. It is not okay for toxic men like that to be allowed to lead and instruct people in the name of God.
I also remembered other hurtful men who claim to be leading in God’s anointing that I’ve crossed paths with and who have left a lot of damage in their wake. They keep finding themselves in positions of authority over others. They keep finding new opportunities to stroke their egos and/or fill their bank accounts. They somehow keep coming out shining while so many of the people that they were supposed to lead and protect are drowning.
They trusted these leaders, and now they’re paying the cost for that.
Be safe out there friends; wolves walk among us. Pay close attention to the fruit. Are they loving? Do they love mercy? Do they love justice for the marginalized? Do they seek to heal, rather than tear down? Are they humble? Do they point people to Jesus or to themselves? Do they seek to lift up others or do they only lift up themselves?
Actions truly speak louder than words. Someone can shout all day that they serve Jesus, but if their actions aren’t lining up, its time to find a new spiritual director for your life.