Cheryl enjoys writing poetry related to her personal faith in Christ and the things she had observed in life.
Spiritual leaders drunk with power
A storyline in 2019 that ran on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital revolved around a cult called "Dawn of Day." The creepy leader of the organization was a man named Shiloh who ruled over a group that was mostly women. One day he explained to a new recruit that in order to be allowed into his inner circle, she must be at his beck and call night and day. This triggered an unpleasant memory from my past that was eerily similar. Sadly, it was not some self-appointed guru demanding absolute loyalty, but a beloved pastor in a Christian church.
I was talking with one of the women who worked in the church office one afternoon and she absolutely beamed with pride as she told me her current situation. Now that she was up close to the pastor, she must keep her cell phone on at all times in case he needed her. She said that even when she had been in the hospital recovering from back surgery she had to keep her phone on 24/7. I asked what she could possibly have done for the pastor while flat on her back after major surgery and she just shrugged her shoulders and smiled? In my opinion, this is a case of being drunk with one's own power and an example of gross spiritual abuse.
The Creator makes no unusual demands
It’s important to understand the difference between a leader trying to control you and the desires of our heavenly Father. It’s true the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac but this was a one time situation and was not asked of other biblical characters. I once attended prayer at 5:30 AM weekday mornings for many years because the Lord woke me and I enjoyed going. No one forced me. Later, the pastor demanded that every church leader had to attend prayer or lose their positions n
Christ should have first place in your heart
The Savior should be first
What troubled me about this woman's story is that two other office workers were doing the same. One was single, the other a widowed mother of one child, but the woman I was conversing with had a husband and two children. My daughter had told me on several occasions that one of the sons complained often that his mom was always at the church late at night and did not have dinner ready for them and their dad. To my knowledge, there is not one scripture in the Bible that can even remotely be interpreted as a saying married women should pledge allegiance to their pastors and leave their spouse and children behind. Mathew 6:33 says to seek first His kingdom and righteousness and the old school marriage vows said spouses are to forsake all others and cleave to each other. I Timothy 2:5 tells us there is One mediator between the Creator and man and that is Christ, not your spiritual leader. Somehow a number of pastors have convinced their congregants, especially the female church leaders that obeying them equals pleasing the Lord. The Savior should always come first and that can be done without neglecting your family.
I once was a dummy but now I see the truth
It is never my intention to disrespect anyone when I share these stories but my desire is that someone sees themselves in what I write and know they are not alone. I recall decades ago, getting a phone call at 3:00 PM saying that all available leaders were to meet with the pastor at 4:00. My husband and I left our three children with my grandma and off to the church, we went. Once everyone was gathered, our spiritual leader praised us all for being mature enough to drop everything and obey his command. At that time I felt special. I thanked God my spouse and I were available and could attend the meeting and had someone to watch the children on short notice. I now realize, that like the phrase often used on the 1970's sitcom Sanford and Son, I was a big dummy. I have yet to find a scripture that says if you jump through man-made hoops to please your pastor you are obeying the Heavenly Father.
Let me balance this by saying that in the household of faith of those who love the Lord we are supposed to show respect, and honor those who serve in His Name. Church members should never mistreat or disrespect their pastor, It is also true, however, that those who say the Lord called them to be a shepherd should treat the parishioners with kindness and not rule with force and cruelty because there is a harsh warning and a stiff penalty for those who do.
Don't be a big dummy
Woe to those who run His church like a cult
Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 1-6 from the Message Bible says the following:
God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!
If your pastor is demanding undying loyalty to Him, imposing on your time, talent and finances, and causing church members to leave and be scattered, scripture says it's wrong.
Don't abandon your family for a cult bully leader
From a Christian standpoint, a cult is a church where the focus is on complete obedience to the leader instead of Christ. In most cases, the pastor may have begun with the right attitude, but things changed subtly without anyone realizing what was happening. This is often done when the person in the pulpit becomes a bully and constantly talks about not touching "His anointed", (I Chronicles 16:22) or talking about how Miriam became a leper because she spoke against Moses. (Numbers chapter 10:1-12). In the modern Christian church, the anointing comes from the Holy Ghost and increases when Christ is glorified. Any preacher who is putting the focus on himself and not Jesus is not His anointed. Miriam came against her brother in public, trying to exalt herself. If you are being or have been abused by a spiritual leader, who is misusing his position, please know that sharing your story is not coming against the anointing and you have nothing to fear, but he does.
Wives, you are not pleasing the Lord when you are on call 24/7 for a man that is not your husband. Single ladies the same goes for you and you should be wondering why no men in the church are asked to do the same. A male pastor who is surrounded by women in a majority of or all the top leadership positions when there are available men should raise everybody's eyebrows. Bottom line, your Heavenly Father will not ask you to abandon your children and or your spouse to serve a cult leader. A true shepherd with the love of Christ would never make this type of request. The Creator gave us the night for sleeping and the Sabbath as a day of rest. How can you rest or sleep properly being on call and wondering when your phone will ring?
© 2019 Cheryl E Preston
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 27, 2019:
True, some individuals lose their mental balance in their desire for approval from church leaders, and become victims of abuse. They need to be taught, not ridiculed. Let's set up some practical Women's Ministries and educate them to become effective models of Christian Womanhood.
Jack Jenn from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on March 26, 2019:
Hi Cheryl E Preston,
Having been involved in a cult myself, many years ago now, this article resonated clearly with me - it wasn't quite the same as you describe but a cult nevertheless and it is your country as well.
Some are serious 'top of the list' cults and some are what I call 'soft cults' but all are dangerous as they are designed to break you down, destroy family relationships by isolating you and so much more that those within are blind to. Remaining in these organisations for any length of time makes it very hard for those to extricate themselves - and that's if they can escape the brainwashing involved.
Sadly this will not decrease as the day draws closer - it will only increase as we are told in Matthew 24: 5 and 11.
Yet most, if not all are aware of 2 verses in Matthew 7 that clearly tell us of the only way to Heaven, verses 13 and 14 and by reading these verses, then fully understanding them.
Space doesn't permit me to explain what they mean here (I have written an article on it for anyone interested) and so many are blind to what is so simple but most don't understand that it is entered spiritually, NOT physically.
These 2 verses are THE most important verses regarding salvation - if people would just think, why did Jesus tell us about them and where is it?
Thank you for writing this article Cheryl,
My best regards,