Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Pastors and other elders are under-shepherds for a congregation of Christians, though they themselves are under a Shepherd: the LORD. They too are sheep, some of which are actually wolves in disguise. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matt.7:15,16) Sometimes disguised wolves are so good at manipulation that even their bad deeds that everyone knows about are overlooked. You might point out some wrongdoing that’s known by all, and then you are made out to be the bad guy. Did you bear false witness? No. It’s just a matter of whose unethical behavior you protested. While you may be respected for protesting the bad behavior of an “ordinary” church member, you had better not protest the bad behavior of your church’s leader. To those who say a pastor is “God’s anointed,” I will tell them all Christians are God’s anointed. The apostle Paul told Christians who looked up to him that they were anointed too (II Cor. 1:21), and also wrote something that would justify a person in challenging apostles and even heavenly angels if their doctrine isn’t sound (Gal. 1:8, 9). No matter who says what, Christians should test all things preached (I John 4:1; I Thes. 5:21).

I’ll come right out and say that people who refuse to challenge a pastor are ignoring Scripture. The Bible warns of fakes who lead churches! It does happen! With that in mind, imagine your church is blessed with a board member who does taxes for a living and is over-qualified to manage the money taken in. You’d think that would make any pastor happy. But maybe the pastor doesn’t want someone on the board who would recognize unethical money management. Further imagine it’s announced that the pastor is having this board member removed. When someone protests that this member is the best person for the job, the pastor says he’ll still be in charge of finances, despite being removed from the board. He says this in front of everyone, so his words can’t be denied. Then he turns around and does the opposite of what he said, not allowing the former board member to handle the church’s finances. On top of that, the pastor whose only job is running the church makes a six-figure salary while a fraction of the money taken in is used to do God’s work. I guess I’d be willing to overlook that if the pastor kept really busy in the church’s affairs, except that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, he’s never been to a single Bible study at the church since you’ve been going.

Typical church members always have the disadvantage when challenging their pastor on something, especially when it’s one person’s word against another’s. It’s like dealing with a crooked cop. Who do you think most people will believe? An average citizen or “a man of the law”? Likewise, it’s an uphill battle for someone dealing with “a man of God.” Think of how frustrated you might be if your pastor was doing several things he shouldn’t, yet most seem afraid to protest even what’s done in the open. And the things hidden from most of the congregation are so terrible virtually no one would believe it without hard evidence. Christians aren’t surprised when hearing on the news about a pastor doing something scandalous, but few of them believe something like it could happen with their own pastor. I can’t blame them for that. Who would want to believe it? Unfortunately, this kind of thing you hear about “only on the news” happens in real life to real people, and you just might be one of those statistics. I hope you’re not, though, and chances are you won’t be. So please don’t look at your pastor with suspicion unless you have good reason to. Just be on the alert when multiple things indicate a possible problem.

It really upsets me when with people with authority abuse whatever position they hold. I’m quite familiar with cops abusing their power. I’m also familiar with average citizens backing up the crooked cops, even when the evidence clearly shows the cops were in the wrong. As much as that sort of thing angers me, it can’t be compared to the kind of anger I feel when something similar happens with spiritual abuse. Those cases involve eternal souls. To get a grasp of the anger I feel, consider what it would be like to have a friend who quit going to church altogether because of an abusive pastor. You’re trying to talk her into finding a good church to attend, but nothing you say seems to work. You’re worried about the fate of her soul, which is in jeopardy because she was abused and manipulated so harshly that she’s now distrustful of all churches. This is one person you’re concerned about, and you don’t know how many others there may be. It’s downright infuriating.

After my post called Abusive Pastors, I didn’t plan on writing another one like it. But the more I think about it, the more I want the abuse to end. I will let no one scare me into silence. The hardest thing about this is the effect it may have on the church’s members. The people are wonderful, so I understand why the ones fed up with the pastor are hesitant to leave. Moreover, the head pastor isn’t the only one who preaches there. God’s Spirit is still moving in that church, and it was in that church that I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It occurred when a wonderful evangelist who came there encouraged me and prayed with me. He’s the one the pastor accused of behaving unethically with some money. (When one man of God says another man of God is unethical, they can’t both be right. That says something about people who always defend the “man of God.”) I doubt the evangelist did anything unethical, except in the pastor’s eyes. The same pastor said members of his church behaved unethically because he wasn’t notified when they gave the evangelist money. It’s not good enough that he chooses how to spend the money given to him by members of the church. He also wants to forbid them to spend additional money of their own on any Christian cause without his approval. People are fed up with this pastor and he may soon be leaving. That said, I want as many Christians as possible to recognize him so that if he comes to their church, they will know not to give him control of it. Here is the YouTube video. Start watching it nine minutes (9:00) from the beginning to hear his outrageous comments.

What I’m doing here may put a target on my back, but I feel it’s something I must do. I’m probably upsetting some good friends who may turn on me for this. The sacrifice is worth it. The ones who turn on me will sound silly. I’ll ask them if I said anything false about the pastor, to which they might reply, “Well, no, but . . . uh, you criticized Pastor!” In Abusive Pastors I mentioned his outrageous statement that two families in his church were basically evil, and that he was looking for people to fight with him. Here is that YouTube video. Start watching 32 mintues (32:00) from the beginning. Hearing a divisive statement like that from the pulpit should give you chills. Again, I want to warn people to keep him out of their church if he enters it. The man is toxic. I would provide more YouTube links if I remembered when some other things were said from the pulpit. He has taken shots at people without actually mentioning a name, and one time he criticized a member of the church’s board. When a pastor has a problem with someone on the board, he should discuss it with the board alone. He should not announce it to everyone in the church! You know, I wonder if he will soon announce from the pulpit that I’m in one of those alleged evil families he mentioned. “See! I told you someone would be causing trouble!” In that case he may have to modify the false prophecy by saying there aren’t two evil families, but three or more. Lots of people are growing tired of his behavior, and I believe it’s just a matter of time before they all work up the courage to say something.

There aren’t words to describe how upsetting this issue is for me. For months I had been praying that my former pastor would change his ways. Now it’s obvious he won’t change soon, if ever, so I pray that he is replaced with a true man of God. I don’t want there to be trouble in my former church. I still care about the people there, even if some of them want nothing more to do with me. I know good and well that the pastor is saying awful things about me, dragging my name through the mud. At the same time he will tell people not to believe the things I say about him. The problem with that is all of my “accusations” are factual. (I would gladly challenge him to prove anything I’ve said is untrue.) There are other things, darker things not known to most, that may soon come to light. I hope it all does. This isn’t about gossip, and it’s not my attempt to get revenge on the pastor for telling me I’m no longer welcome in his church. When a pastor lives a double life, people have a right to know about it.

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