While reading this post from Barb at A Former Leader's Journey, I couldn't help but wonder what great measure of healing could come to the Body of Christ if all leaders were as open and transparent as Barb. Thank you, Barb, for being willing to speak the truth and to walk in the truth even though it cost you so much.
I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.
I was the supporting cast in our church. I was not one of the “Main” leaders. I was never paid to lead. I had “leadership roles.” I (along with my husband) was viewed as one of the supporting pillars in our community of believers. I tried not to be one of the front leaders. I simply took the vision of the church, supported it, taught it, explained it, fought for it and promised loyalty to it. For almost 20 years my husband and I have been in this role and just recently we have come to see many things we never would have thought possible.I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.
All this time I worked as your leader. I was at one time or another, your small group leader, your counselor, and your ministry head (nursery, new member development, etc). I helped at various times on the worship team, the prayer team, the nursery, the elder board, the college ministry team, the hospitality team, and I’m sure a host of other teams and positions.
I am the Person Formerly Known as Your Leader.
Because of all this, I need to repent and ask your forgiveness. I was wrong. I thought wrong things. I believed wrong things. I modeled wrong things. I taught wrong things. I was wrong. I have sinned against you and the others and against my grace loving, mercy giving, all powerful, all loving God.
- I repent for teaching and modeling that the “covering” of our church, my leadership, and our network would keep you from going into rebellion or deception.
- I took your private confidences and passed them on to the other leaders regardless of my telling you that I wouldn’t. I told myself that this was an accepted practice to gain wisdom in dealing with your situation. Now I see it was probably mostly to garner, in some twisted way, the favor of my leaders, to show my loyalty and to gain a better placement of myself in their leadership system.
- I taught, modeled and practiced tithing. I taught you that if you didn’t tithe, bad things would happen to you and/or your finances. Now I understand the fallacy of this. It is a fear tactic – and it is not of God.
- I did not stand up and speak up when I heard and saw something wrong being taught, lived, or modeled. In this way, you, as people who respected me had neither voice nor protection. There were many times I should have spoken up gently/humbly to correct other leaders around me. I wrongly felt that it was up to God to correct and deal with them. That it was not my “place” to correct “God’s Anointed.”
- I wanted to be seen by leaders as loyal and mostly I wanted to be in what I perceived as one of the “inner circles of friendship.” I bought their friendship with flattering words, serving them unconditionally, not making waves, not challenging them and being disloyal to what I sometimes knew was wrong. I was a religious whore.
- I taught you that with leaders, you did not have the right to expect friendship or any sort of loyalty back. I told you that you should become what I had become, completely a servant. They owed you and me nothing. I have learned to watch out for “friendships” where I am the servant only. I have learned my “servanthood” was nothing more than trying to manipulate myself into prominence.
- I taught that the church was an Army and that we therefore needed Generals and Sergeants to lead us. (I of course saw myself as the sergeant – not the head but certainly one of the right arms of the head.) Again, I did not read my Bible.
- I taught you to despise other churches in our city. I taught you that they were not as enlightened as us, did not have as much of the Holy Spirit as us, could not worship as we did, did not recognize the leadership in our church and come under their apostolic leadership, and so many other things. I hinted at their pastors “weaknesses.” I judged their programs, people, leaders and lives as unfit for the true expression of the Kingdom of God and taught you to do the same. It is true that I did see many legitimate problems, and I still do but I had pulled back and decided I was done with the all but the select body of Christ in our area and encouraged you to also “not waste your time.”
- I practiced and taught you “shunning.” This is the practice of not associating with those who have left our body. I taught you to look the other way in the grocery store. To ignore their emails and be succinct and distant when they called you. I taught you that you could be contaminated by a perceived friendship with them, and instilled in you the fear that was in me, that I would be seen as disloyal.
- I taught you that when people left our body, they left their destiny. I thought that the only way they were to fulfill what God had for them was through our particular church.
- I encouraged you in total obedience to our leaders and total submission of ministry to their vision. I often referred to the church as being in the leaders’ “boat.” We were to totally get in this “boat” and leave it up to God and the leaders where and how to navigate this life. We were not to question this boat leader’s vision or direction as they were “hearing from God”. If you wanted to minister it had to be under their direct “umbrella.”
My pride, arrogance, manipulation and disregard for the scripture are detestable to me. In that I was your leader, role model, and teacher makes it doubly serious. I know of nothing else than to remove myself.
I am not beating myself up as to the point where I imagine that I did nothing right. There were many of you that I loved unconditionally. We showed hospitality, we modeled a good marriage, an open and honest life and when I needed to, I have asked your forgiveness. But the scope and magnitude which I see my own heart today is detestable to me.
So today, I ask your forgiveness. I know many of you were not directly under my leadership. So why do I ask your forgiveness? This is why. - Maybe in reading my “confession” you will come to realize that those in leadership above you who have inflicted so many hurts will someday come to realize what they have done. Maybe your prayers for them will result in them walking out of their own deception. Maybe the grace that you show to them will be a signpost for them to follow. Maybe in not hating them you will be able to love and pray for their blinders to fall off. From my heart to you, I am so sorry, please forgive me. And please forgive those who also have been your leaders.
A Person Formerly Known As Your Leader