Look Out for People Who Demand Personal Attention – A Common Sign of an Abuser
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:12-14)
Over the years in my experience as a pastor, I have had a very similar scenario played out numbers of times. I think I have written about it before someplace, but it happens frequently enough that it bears re-telling. Some new person comes along. Maybe a visitor to your church. Perhaps they phone or write you. They are all smiles. Smooth talkers. Slick in appearance. Full of flattery — “Oh pastor, that was the finest sermon I ever heard.” That kind of thing. I have had this happen so often that these kinds of flatteries don’t even move me anymore.
And then they want something. In most of the cases I have dealt with, what they wanted was special attention of some sort from me. “I need to meet with you. When can we meet?” Or, “I need to be discipled. Can we meet each week regularly for discipleship?” (Keep in mind, I’m talking about a person who has very recently just come on the scene). Usually they don’t give many details about what they want to talk about.
And I always respond to them with “No, I cannot meet with you. I have many other responsibilities. If you need more help, you can go to our blog and our books. If you live in the area you can avail yourself of all the ministries we have in our church like all the other members do.” [NOTE: That being said, if any of our readers visit our area and want to visit our church or give me a call just to see each other face to face, please do so!]
These people differ from the many genuine abuse victims and truth-seekers who contact us. The real article is humble. They are not demanding. They apologize for writing too long of an email. And if you have to tell them, “I am very sorry, but I just cannot go through all the material you sent for our review,” they totally understand.
But the character I am speaking of in this post is very, very different. Here are some of the responses I have had fired at me by them when the smile went off their face after I denied their request for special attention:
- “Well, I can see that you as a big shot pastor [Ha! We have maybe 40 people in our church!]…I can see that you don’t have time to give to some lowly person like me.”
- “How dare you refuse to give me your time! I came to you in good faith. You are obligated as a minister to help people like me!”
- “I know that you don’t have time for people of my race” (this one has been played on me twice. Once by a young black man and again by a Mexican fellow. Both turned out to have long histories of causing destruction in churches. Sadly, one of them hooked a young woman and married her).
- This one from a church member very shortly after I met him when I was a new pastor in a church — “Pastor, you know, the last pastor came over to my farm every Monday morning and we would talk about the church and how things should be done.”
Now, I don’t know if this kind of tactic is typically used by abusers in marriages, but I highly suspect that it is and that our readers can tell us some very similar stories. What such people are up to is that they are working to deceive and gain allies. In my case, they want to gain the pastor of the church as their ally. They believe that the world revolves around them and they insist that their demands be met. When they hear us say “no,” they blow. They accuse. They threaten. They judge and demean. And what they are looking for is for us to cave into them and apologize and give them what they want. Power and control you see.
It has been over 20 years now since I became wise to these kind of people. Every single one of them hate me to this day.
All because of one little word, “no.”