How can you tell if someone who has the office of shepherd is actually a hireling?
Discerning good leaders from incompetent / bad leaders is vital in these perilous times.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 1 Part 3
In Part 1, I set out some basic differences between good leaders (true under-shepherds) and hirelings. Sooner or later, hirelings will abandon the sheep to the wolves.
All true Christians are sheep when it comes to following Jesus. True under-shepherds are leaders who see themselves as fellow sheep with the flock. True under-shepherds don’t pull the hierarchical authority card when their interests are being flouted. (We see this kind of non-rank-pulling humility in Paul’s letter to Philemon.)
God calls all who have been born again to grow into maturity in Christ (Eph 4:13; Heb 6:1-3).
God warns us to discern and not follow hirelings:
… some have erred, and have turned to vain prattle, because they want to be teachers of the scripture and yet do not understand what they speak, nor the things they assert. (1 Tim 1:6-7)
Unspiritual and vain voices pass over. For they will increase to greater ungodliness, and their words will consume even as does a canker (2 Tim 2:16-17)
This understand: in the last days, perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of their own selves … proud … unkind … despisers of those who are good … having a similitude of godly living, but who have denied the power thereof – and from such, turn away. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
Those who are born again and don’t feel any desire or calling to be leaders, will happily follow and learn from true under-shepherds.
Hirelings may wear shepherd’s robes in the church, but their character and capability make them unqualified to be true under-shepherds of Jesus Christ. Hirelings come on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are out-and-out wolves. At the other end are what I have called “sheep-like shepherds”.
I’m using the term “sheep-like shepherds” with a negative connotation. Just as sheep can easily go astray (wavering and carried with every wind of doctrine by the wiliness of men), so “sheep-like shepherds” can easily go off the path.
- Pastors / elders / leaders of churches might be sheep-like shepherds.
- Writers, journalists, social media content creators who are respected and followed by other Christians might be sheep-like shepherds.
How can you tell if someone who has the office of shepherd is a “sheep-like shepherd”, a hireling, who will abandon the flock?
Observe and mentally note the conduct of the person. You can’t tell by their title and formal qualifications, or the size of their following on social media. Ask yourself to what extent is this person adhering to the principles of good leadership, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus.
A natural tendency of sheep is submission and obedience to authority. Sheep are easily led and they usually follow the majority.
When someone is accorded the office or respect of a shepherd, but is more akin to a sheep wearing shepherd’s robes, he is easily led … and easily misled (generic use of ‘he’). He has more fear of man than fear of God. He can easily be swayed by
- his peers who are also deemed shepherds
- academics who propagate mistaken interpretations or translations of the bible
- popular opinion in the congregation
- popular opinion in the online community
- the main stream media
Furthermore, he can easily be deceived by wolves who want to wield power for nefarious purposes.
Such leaders lack the ability to use logic to assess complex problems to arrive at solutions that will benefit all people of good will. They are not problems solvers (peacemakers). See Logic and Authority in the Church.
“Sheep-like shepherds” tend to bristle when confronted by logic and facts that might highlight the possibility that they have made an unwise decision.
Most pastors – even those in the advocacy community – seem to think of themselves as The Answers Man.
The Answers Man responds from the point of view of his authority. He cares for his ego and image. “The hireling does not care for the sheep.” (John 10:13) “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezek 34:2)
To have lots of answers readily to hand just requires memory, it doesn’t require thinking from principles. An Answers Man may sometimes think he is employing principles, but his ‘principles’ will align with his interests. It pricks his pride bubble if you ask him to look at evidence that exposes a wolf (or a wolfish system) when he himself had not discerned the wolf’s real nature. By simply asking him to examine the evidence, he thinks you are bullying him, taking authority over him.
In contrast, Problem Solvers focus on the problem(s) faced by the sheep. They respond by working from principles. That requires understanding: listening to the sheep, hearing their perspectives, gathering information to assemble a complex picture and come up with a peacemaking solution. Problem Solvers know that What is good for the hive is good for the bee. When they are alerted to a problem in the hive, they try to understand what is going on, all the information relevant to the problem. Problem Solvers may have strong opinions but they are not closed minded: they entertain the idea that they could be wrong because they may be missing information.
And here’s another thing to consider:
When a leader is swayed by wolves in sheep’s clothing, the leader effectively becomes a proxy wolf.
So the more you observe any or all of the following behaviours in someone who is seen as a leader / shepherd, the more likely that person is a hireling and effectually a wolf.
Leaders who are focused on preserving their authority will
- neglect their responsibility to pursue the truth of any conflict or problem
- refuse to listen to the facts, even when those facts are provided by diligent researchers who cite their sources
- take offence when asked to examine logical arguments and facts that might expose their lack of information and faulty conclusions
- denigrate whistle-blowers, calling into question their competence, morals and motives
- seek to coerce using anger and fear
- take a neutral stance when wolves are chewing true under-shepherds or sheep
- approve things that wolves have said or done.
If you wanted to, you could replace the term ‘whistle-blowers’ with ‘true under-shepherds of Jesus Christ’. The list would still be applicable.
And remember, true under-shepherds may not have any formal leadership position in churches.
There is ample evidence to suggest that there are wolves in the advocacy community. Should we be surprised, as this is the method of operation of the enemy. If you openly question an abuse advocate’s judgement, and that advocate does a 180 degree turn on you, becoming cold, antagonistic, impatient, it’s a red flag that the advocate is at the very least unqualified to be an advocate, and at worst may be a double-agent, a gatekeeper who controls the narrative for the evildoers.
To sum up:
- Hirelings come on a spectrum.
- Hirelings are concerned for their authority.
- Hirelings neglect their responsibility to pursue the truth of any conflict or problem.
- When leaders are swayed by wolves in sheep’s clothing, they become proxy wolves.
I hope this has helped you discern bad and incompetent leaders in their different forms.
The final part of this series (Part 3) will be titled “What happens when sheep are led by hirelings and wolves?”
Posts in this series
Part 1: Sheep, sheep-like shepherds, shepherds, and wolves
Part 2: Is this post.
Part 3: What happens when sheep are led by hirelings and wolves?
I want to thank Sister, Reaching Out and James for contributing ideas to this post.
Logic and Authority in the Church – by James
Why is the church so slow at responding rightly to the epidemic of abuse? – by Barbara Roberts
Jesus on Violence – by James. This addresses self-defence and defence of folks who are oppressed by wolves.
Mumpsimus – a traditional notion that is obstinately held although it is unreasonable – by Barbara Roberts
- Posted in: spiritual abuse
- Tagged: abuser's tactics, Barbara Roberts, Christian maturity, false teachers, leadership, pastors, wolves in sheep's clothing
From the original post:
^That, although sometimes sooner appears MUCH later than is healthy for the sheep.
From the original post:
From the original post:
From the original post:
but they (the true under-shepherds)
I discovered this blog yesterday when I started doing research on Author Gary Thomas and it has been very helpful.
I made a comment in one of Gary’s Facebook posts. My comment got deleted and it’s evident he hated it. His condescending / patronizing response was appalling. His response demonstrated what kind of leader / shepherd he is.
This is the link to the exchange on FB:
Gary Thomas (Facebook post: May 26, 2020)
Thank you, Christianfaithtalk, and welcome to the blog! 🙂
Since you are finding our blog helpful, you may like to check out our FAQs and our New Users’ Info.
That meme by Gary Thomas is typical of his bad teaching.
Hi again, Christianfaithtalk, we have several posts about Gary Thomas.
Gary Thomas’s book “Sacred Marriage” — a review by Avid Reader
“Sacred Influence: What a Man Needs from His Wife to Be the Husband She Wants” — a review by Avid Reader
And here’s a link to all our posts that mention Gary Thomas: Gary Thomas
Good for you, Christianfaithtalk, for defending those that are abused and cannot speak!
Gary Thomas’ statement is an example of what used to be referred to in politics as a “Motherhood Statement”. While speaking in the abstract, all can agree that motherhood is a wonderful thing. But when faced with an actual case of it, nobody can agree on who is responsible for it.
Gary Thomas’ meme, while it remains abstract, may sound warm and fuzzy to the unwary. But, when applied, will quickly turn cold and bitter.
Mr Thomas’ meme —
Right off the bat, the first sentence is wrong. Contrary to the common perception, most conflicts consist of one person attacking and the other defending. So it is more appropriate to say, “Seek to defend yourself, not to win, in every conflict.” I could go on!
I’m going to print Mr Thomas’ little meme out and put it on my fridge. It can remind me every day to never forget what wisdom looks like in Dunning-Kruger Land.
For those who may be unfamiliar with James’ reference to “Dunning-Kruger Land”, there is a more detailed explanation (and beginning of a conversation) on the Dunning-Kruger Effect on an earlier ACFJ blog post (Leslie Vernick – various responses that domestic abuse victims have to her work. (5th & final in series on SBC’s ChurchCares program)), starting at this comment by James (in his reply to other commenters).
James commented (28TH MAY 2020 – 8:01 PM):
Gary Thomas’ meme (and numerous variations on his meme) are frequently used in things like sin-levelling, Nouthetic counselling, etc..
For folks in a relationship with an abuser, Gary Thomas’ meme can be – and usually is – utterly devastating.
There are so many variables in ANY conflict – creating the meme was akin to creating a tweet (which was, perhaps (?), what Gary Thomas had in mind when he created the meme).
If anyone was to (re)tweet Gary Thomas’ meme (without including any caveats), the (potential for) harm could increase exponentially.
Thank you, Christianfaithtalk, for standing up and speaking out.
And thank you, James, for your wonderful reply. Ironically, when I read the meme you provided (from Gary Thomas), I felt anything BUT warm and fuzzy, but I can attest that that would not have always been the case.
It’s not the worst thing to have been on both sides. I can understand the strong, spiritual-sounding appeal to such statements that I now see as vague and dangerous. Not to mention untrue AND unwise.
However, it’s vital to be careful to not come across as self-righteous: “I see the light now, but I was once in the dark—like you.”
I am aiming to walk in the light, but no doubt I am not all-seeing and all-knowing. Eyes that are opened (or are opening) still have plenty of work ahead—to discern what they are now seeing, to what they hadn’t seen clearly before. For example, if I now see a warning flag, what is that flag saying exactly, and what to do about it?
The meme is so dangerous because it can be applied to a wide spectrum of relationships, not just marital ones. It is mocking the 2nd commandment to love one another. It is the height of hatred for one another to downgrade or dismiss evil behaviors that are 100% not the fault of the one who is inflicted with such evil.
I’ve seen so many behaviors and beliefs (among professing Christians) that so easily discard or set aside that commandant, the one Galatians 5:14 boldly states:
Barb as always did an excellent, excellent job in this post. So many things she wrote about resonated with me, both in experiences with others, and within myself. Believe me, my own pride is pretty prickly. But I have seen the strong, often scary reactions from others when their own pride gets a nice poke, even the tiniest prick can set them off.
I continue to learn and put words to past experiences in the (c)hurch. I have been duped so many times. But my ability to see exactly what a wolf or hireling is up to. This article helps me to continue to recognize a true shepherd. They are rare.
A part of my healing is the new recognition of how deeply ingrained my dependence on church culture authoritarianism has brainwashed me since early childhood. It kept me in my long term marriage to a wolf minister. It influenced my desire to continually try to be of service in any (para)church I have ever volunteered in. I left the organized local church scene 4 years ago. My faith and growth thrive.
Lament, grief, anger, weariness wash over me when I peer back into the darkness of what I thought was the safe fold.
Seeing Clearly commented (28TH MAY 2020 – 6:45 PM):
(Strikethrough done by me.)
In the same comment, Seeing Clearly commented:
From the original post:
From the original post:
Modifying the comment by Seeing Clearly might help folks who are outside the church / “church” (for any number of reasons) identify hirelings.
Thank you, I would like to communicate to those outside the church.
Thank you so much for such an honest, thoughtful statement about yourself AND comment regarding the wider spectrum of the church itself.
You put it in a distinctive way: learning AND putting words to your past experiences.
It’s more than just learning, mind-wise. It’s also about searching, finding and putting words to describe them. This is how others can be encouraged, if you ever do attempt to.
Sometimes there ARE no words, but when that is said (“I have no words”), those who understand and relate know what you mean. The pain is so deep that no words will suffice, but Christ’s love can sustain.
The irony of how Christ “disrupted” the religious system of the day, yet how you spoke of your “dependence on church culture authoritarianism” implies a dependence on a system of sorts. This is NOT to imply that there is something wrong with that—especially a church-based one. Being served and serving others requires putting a system into place.
This is very much my own testimony as well. I often resented and rebuffed authority in general as an unbeliever—-as a child the adults seemed to love to be in charge, but seemed to relish being in control more than anything else. Even as a youth, I sensed my disobedience to authority was likely not pleasing to God (even though I had no real understanding of Him then).
It’s amazing how you can flip that switch. As a new believer, I now see myself as eager to not be or not become rebellious—eager to please and fit in. Picture an unruly, unfocused youth being packed off in the military in order to learn to be disciplined, to adapt to structure and stability. Drill in the right slogans (honor and duty) and drill out the wrong ones (rebellion and revelry).
Before becoming a believer, reading the Word—I noticed how He rebelled against the standards and norms of the day. It piqued my interest as well as challenged my previous notions about the Bible.
It’s never a simple thing to know how to challenge as He did, while remaining true to His commandments, as well as resisting the temptation to conform to the world’s ways.
This is often why I don’t even want to look back! It’s a dark hole or tunnel that I’d rather not deal with, but that won’t make the darkness go or fade away. As well as challenging the darkness around us, it’s just as important to challenge the darkness within ourselves.
I don’t think that darkness within is always sinful; it can also be a result of the darkness inflicted upon us, which does leave a long and lasting impact.
Helovesme commented (14TH JUNE 2020 – 1:33 PM):
In the same comment, Helovesme commented:
In the same comment, Helovesme commented:
I’m adapting some words from Seeing Clearly‘s comment.
A part of my healing is the new recognition of how deeply dependent I have been on attending church. For at least seven years I have had only occasional and filament-thin fellowship in conversation with others who attend; I have far more often felt ‘fellowship’ when singing the old hymns and hearing the Scripture read aloud (my fellowship is with the now-dead hymn writers and the writers of the Bible); I have more often than not left the church service before the sermon began….yet I have nevertheless been dependent on that weird selective church attendance to keep me going in my walk with Christ. But now the pastor admonished me for what I put on the church’s Facebook group, I don’t know whether I can ever bring myself to walk in to that church’s services again. And I don’t have any sense that there is anywhere else I could go that would not be a long distance to travel to and would not end up with the same disappointment for me.
Seeing Clearly wrote:
I did not think that the church I had been attending was a ‘safe fold’. But before the Covid lockdown I had been managing to attend that church in my own way so that the upsides slightly outweighed the downsides. Now I think that the downsides will outweigh the upsides….and I’m grieving for my loss.
Someone wrote this on Twitter recently about institutional churches and I think there is some truth in it:
Responding to Barb’s more detailed comment about her recent church experience:
(I omitted the Covid aspect because that part wasn’t applicable to my experience, but the rest of it does!)
I DID think I had found a safe fold after being absent from the “church scene” for at least a few years I believe? This was after my horrific “mediation.”
A bit of backstory: I tried to find a church to go to in the aftermath of that incident, but the anxiety was too much and I eventually gave up. I had married into strong church-going Christians, so I was especially embarrassed and tried to cover it up or make excuses or downplay things around them.
I did end up missing worshipping with fellow believers and I did think I’d found a safe fold. However, I couldn’t find people that I fit in with there, and it was a big church. But I tried to keep going and keep my head up. AND tried to get involved, serving wise, wherever I thought I could.
After a handful of years, my former pastor retired suddenly (he had founded and been the pastor of that church for a long time). Then we found out he had had an affair with a staff member and retired in order to escape scandal. I TRIED to stay for at least a year or two, to support and help stabilize a very shook up church body, but the anxiety was kicking my butt.
When a scandal is revealed, sometimes there are layers underneath that start to peel apart and become visible as well. I was devastated and felt very foolish–yet again, for trusting the wrong person or persons.
I eventually concluded as Barb did, the downsides were too much. I felt that loss as well; still do. I will be praying for you, Barb. The only place we truly belong is in His kingdom; our place and position is sealed and real.
Oh, and I’m super sorry the pastor treated you that way on Facebook. That must have been very hard and hurtful.
You wrote (15TH JUNE 2020 – 12:01 PM):
You also wrote:
You also wrote:
Fabulous post, Barbara! I’ve been wanting to comment, but my mind is going a million directions that I have to rein in to one coherent comment. Hopefully, I will be able to do that in the next day or two.
Thanks, Sister. 🙂
Assumption: The individual being talked to is a Christian.
When discussing finances / material possessions / etc., the hireling says: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”
When discussing finances / material possessions / etc., the true shepherd says: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.”
When discussing authority, the hireling says: “You must obey ME!”
When discussing authority, the true shepherd says: “You must obey the Holy Spirit.”
When discussing the Gospel, the hireling says: “You aren’t qualified to question me.”
When discussing the Gospel, the true shepherd says: “Do you have any questions of / for me?”
When discussing the Bible, the hireling says: “THIS (insert Bible translation here) is THE definitive translation of the Bible!!!!”
When discussing the Bible, the true shepherd is at a loss for words.
Hi, Finding Answers, I like the way you put this comment of yours together.
Recently I had a run-in with the pastor of the church I had been attending before the Covid lockdown. Without my requesting it, someone from the church added me to the church’s private Facebook group at the start of the lockdown. Some weeks after I had been put in the group, I noticed that a member of the church had posted a video of Billy Graham. I was gravely concerned because there is plenty of evidence to indicate that Billy Graham had a very dark side and was not the “good Christian” people think he was.
Because I was concerned, I posted a comment on the Facebook post informing those who were not aware of the evidence about Billy Graham’s dark side, and I included a link to a Twitter thread of mine which cites all that evidence about Billy Graham.
Can you predict what happened?
Within 15 minutes the pastor phoned me, asking me to take down my comment. I told him that I stood by my comment so I would not take it down; therefore, if he didn’t want my comment there, he could hide it and / or remove me from the group. I also said: “I hope you read the link I gave.” He immediately replied, “You have no authority over me!” to which I said calmly, “I know I have no authority over you; I’m simply saying I hope you read the link.”
When I checked the next day, I saw that I had been removed from that Facebook group.
Finding Answers, in your comment you said:
Would a true shepherd ALWAYS be at a lost for words when discussing the Bible?
And why do you think a true shepherd be at a loss for words when discussing the Bible?
You asked (31ST MAY 2020 – 10:54 PM):
The true shepherd is USUALLY listening, although discussion(s) can take place when the other Christian individual is open-minded.
The true shepherd is at a loss for words when: The other Christian individual is saying something.
The true shepherd is at a loss for words when: The other individual is “discussing”, rather than discussing, the Bible.
The true shepherd is at a loss for words when: The other individual is saying the (Triune) God is not the Trinity.
The true shepherd is at a loss for words when: The other (Christian) individual is hurting / in pain / grieving / feeling (in the emotional sense) lost / etc..
The true shepherd DOES speak, but speaks to communicate, not stand in “authority” / “power” / “etc.”.
I understand ^That explanation is incomplete, but I think the gist of my comment provides ideas other commenters might (?) opt to discuss (especially for those folks who have been talked AT, rather than listened TO, by a shepherd).
Yes, your explanation makes sense to me, Finding Answers. Thanks!
That was awesome, Finding Answers, as well as your reply to Barb.
Barb’s list in the post about signs of an authority figure who is more full of his or her authority, versus full of the Holy Spirit, was so good it merits being listed out, thoughtfully dissected and digested, one by one:
Leaders who are focused on preserving their authority will:
1) Neglect their responsibility to pursue the truth of any conflict or problem.
2) Refuse to listen to the facts, even when those facts are provided by diligent researchers who cite their sources.
3) Take offence when asked to examine logical arguments and facts that might expose their lack of information and faulty conclusions.
4) Denigrate whistle-blowers, calling into question their competence, morals and motives.
5) Seek to coerce using anger and fear.
6) Take a neutral stance when wolves are chewing true under-shepherds or sheep.
7) Approve things that wolves have said or done.
Barb, thank you for sharing in more detail about your run-in with the pastor, and how it went down. Kudos to you for standing firm; I think you handled it well—but I AM sorry it didn’t end well (aka a real conversation was initiated, not just commands and eventually being cut off).
Couple that with Finding Answers’ comment and reply to Barb, and a stronger, more distinctive picture comes into focus—-about what to look for, what to be aware of, and how to admit and accept that what you are perceiving must be taken seriously—in church leaders and those without any “formal leadership position” (from the post) but do wield power.
A long time ago, on a Facebook post about abuse in the church, I made it clear that victims of abuse are aware of, or able to discern—what Biblical love is and what is it not. We DO know what love should and should not feel like (this goes beyond emotional feelings)—-I mean what the experience of being loved looks like, feels like, and how it can and should make a strong, positive impact on us. Biblical love, existing in ourselves, given to one another, gives us powerful glimpses of what His love is like.
That doesn’t mean we know or understand these things right away! Abuse and enablers of abuse bring so much confusion to the concept and reality of Biblical love—-that understandably is part of the warping and twisting of the victim’s mind. But my personal belief is that victims are not lacking in intelligence—abusers chip away at them until they are convinced they are mindless drones that only know what the abuser wants them to know, or think. But that is not who they really are; it is just buried underneath the abuser’s lies.
I use the words “Biblical love” because I personally resent how the word “love” is thrown around among believers. There should be a deep understanding that among the many distorted versions of love that have existed throughout the ages, the only one that should matter to His born again believers is how the Bible defines it. And it is pure, sacred and holy—just like He is. Anyone with His seed in them will learn to instinctively recognize it, and instinctively know otherwise.
And victims who are born again in Him are no different. Being cleverly deceived does not mean the Lord forsakes you and has forgotten you. It doesn’t work that way. I have been guilty of quenching His Spirit, unwilling to admit His Spirit was trying to tell me something, but He didn’t quit trying. The Lord is far more patient and persistent than we give Him credit for.
I was so confused for so long (still am, in many areas), but once I DID admit that a handful of those that claimed to know the Bible were not exercising Biblical love—worst yet, seemed to redefine it for their own gains—a major part of that confusion fell away. Leaving much to still deal with, but that was the core and crux of it.
A core part of that (reflected in Barb’s spot on accurate pinpointing) was the lack of not just communication, but conversation. IF there was communication, I realized they were there to command, not converse. Only to control. Not to give of themselves, but to give orders. Or, I sensed more curiosity than caring. That is a key component of gossip. Gathering information not to help a person, but hurt them. It’s a power play that David spoke of (Psalm 41:6).
Even their questions to me weren’t serious. When I tried to sincerely answer them, I got the notion that they already knew what they wanted to hear, and I was supposed to pacify them. I think it angered and offended them when I did not instinctively comply with them—which seemed to justify their subsequent behaviors—-saying things that made me feel and look foolish, saying nothing at all, or worse yet—-using passive aggression by talking to others about me, instead of directly to me. Likely painting me in a bad light (certainly not an accurate one) and likely playing the victim so no one would DARE to suggest trying to communicate with me ever again.
None of those things reflect Biblical love. I immediately and eventually sensed it—I saw it right away but wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. And who in the world has the very tricky path of healthy communication down pat? The Bible says no one has a perfectly tamed tongue, never slipping and perfectly in control. But I eventually realized this went deeper than that.
One of my favorites verses in the Word is both my long term goal and my daily downfall: James 1:19-20:
This is how the Lord is as described in various places in the Word. Trials are often meant to produce patience in us—one of the key components in not shooting off our mouths, not to mention shooting off words in anger. The characteristics Barb listed out in unsafe authority figures reflect a lack of allowing God to tame not only their tongues, but the anger and pride within that contributes to an untamed tongue.
This is my daily downfall because I don’t always fight the good fight, I fight HIM instead! I am not what I ought to be, as Paul said, but if He won’t give up on me, I won’t give up on Him.
What caught me about Barb’s description with that pastor is how easily he rejected her. No one that is led by His love will be prone to such an action, so quickly, decisively and frankly—so unnecessarily. All she did was ask him to read the link she provided. If he didn’t have time or didn’t want to take the trouble—why did that cause him to cut her off so unceremoniously, then claiming his authority (either speaking for or overriding His authority?) gave him that right.
My apologies for taking the liberty of modifying your comment by numbering your list.
I did NOT use WordPress features to format your list, hence the lack of a space between the number, the period, and the first letter of your listed item.
I made the modification without using WordPress features, as the comment is yours, not mine.
I simply added line numbers and spacing between line items because I KNOW WordPress would have made a mash-up of the items in your list.
[August 10, 2022: I slightly modified the way the numbers appeared, as there have been some changes to WordPress that affect numbering. Reaching Out.]
Helovesme commented (15TH JUNE 2020 – 1:01 PM):
In the same comment, Helovesme commented:
(Strikethrough / addition of the word “and” done by me.)
As I mentioned in my previous comment, fabulous post! I’ve been pondering what I want to say in my comment ever since. The first part of my comment below spells out what I was initially thinking about when I first read the post.
Then I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday. I’m wondering if maybe it was the Holy Spirit because it came from nowhere. So hang on for the ride, the last part of my comment will be a complete 180 from the first part.
From the post:
^Yes, but I haven’t found any true under-shepherds.
Also, I believe some who are born again also follow false under-shepherds. And some false under-shepherds teach some truth. I could list maybe half a dozen people I believe to be false under-shepherds that I benefited from their teaching before I knew they were false shepherds.
Ironically, this post came out on the same day that Julie Roys announced that Gilbert Bilezikian is suing Willow Creek Community Church for defamation [Internet Archive link]1. I benefited greatly from Gilbert’s book, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church. He makes a Biblical case for equality for women in the church. I used to highly recommend it.
Now, I believe Bilezikian to be a sexual predator. Willow Creek, as the saying goes, did “Too little too late,” when they finally said they believe Gilbert’s victims after a decade of knowing of his behavior. They are not really much better in my book than Gilbert. They did nothing to support his victims and didn’t take a stand until one victim’s narrative became highly public.
I used to believe in Ravi Zacharias and James McDonald too, before I learned both were wolves in sheepskin.
I used to respect Franklin Graham, but have these things against him:
—Drawing ginormous salaries from both Samaritan’s Purse and from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
—Choosing to undercut rather than help Naghmeh Abedini Panahi when she came forward with the fact that her ex-husband, Saeed Abedini, is abusive. Franklin indirectly accusing her of lying with his statement on Facebook:
—Overriding his Mom’s wishes of where to be buried, making sure that Billy and she were buried at the library he built to glorify his dad for donors to come see.
A Family at Cross-Purposes Billy Graham’s Sons Argue Over a Final Resting Place [Internet Archive link]
A couple days ago, I saw again on my Twitter Feed, a “Promoted Tweet” of Franklin’s which means he (or more likely his two charities) paid for Twitter to promote the Tweet. I’ve seen it multiple times.
Here’s what it says:
That day, the Tweet [Internet Archive link]2 showed 147k Likes and 18.6k Retweets. I took a screen shot. I had done the same thing when I saw the promoted Tweet the last time, May 20, 2020. At that time, there were 18k Retweets and 143k Likes. (i.e. the Likes and Retweets went up a few thousand.) This is sheer sheep manipulation to get followers and it’s working because of the increased likes and Retweets. Is it not anti-Christ even?
Of course, our nation needs to wake up and God is the answer. Who wouldn’t agree to that? There’s an expression in the United States that a statement is like “Motherhood and Apple Pie,” meaning something everyone will agree about being good without question.
Franklin Graham, with money received by donors most likely, is paying Twitter to promote his Tweet where he makes a Christian “Motherhood and Apple Pie” statement to American Christians. But why did Franklin Graham say to follow himself if we agree that God is the answer? If God is the answer, shouldn’t we follow God and not Franklin?
Granted, I don’t believe God has a Twitter account, but imagine how much money his two charities might have paid for that advertising and what was the goal / purpose of it? For Franklin’s number of Twitter followers to increase. It’s not about God at all. Yes, Franklin, I think the United States needs to wake up to God, not to following you. Following God and you is not synonymous.
The hardest part for me is seeing Pastors in the advocacy community who talk a good game, but have bullied rather than defended the sheep. I think of one who is a wolf who has targeted some victims while basking in adulation from others, and another Pastor who sided with him while calling himself “neutral”. When “neutral” pastor was politely confronted with the truth about the wolf and his error in siding with him, rather than repent, he claimed to be the victim of being “bullied” by the sheep. He then accepted a pat on the back from aforesaid wolf. I don’t know that the latter targets people like the first Pastor, but I do know that he’s not safe. He at best has zero discernment and bullies anyone who attempts to show him his errors.
This second Pastor would be a wolf-by-proxy in the definition of this post. He has similarly Retweeted in the past a Tweet from a third individual, an alleged advocate, who is targeting Dee from the Wartburg Watch. (I have in my mind a specific Tweet that I saw, he may have Retweeted more. I stopped following him.)
Several Bible passages come to mind, one being about the wheat and the tares, another being the sheep and the goats (Where2or3r commented on the sheep and the goats at the first post in this series.).
I could care less about both these pastors whom I used to respect when I believed they were advocates. I publicly exposed the first pastor on social media, but feared hurting abuse victims who looked up to him / found affirmation from his social media posts. I worried about pulling wheat as well as the tares in exposing him. However, I did not want him to be able to hurt anyone else so I did it. The good thing is I now believe he has lost some of his fan base that he once had as some were beginning to see him for what he is, starting even before reading what I wrote. The second pastor is still highly regarded among some. I don’t know that he targets people like the first pastor, but I do know that he’s not safe. He at best has zero discernment and bullies anyone who attempts to show him his errors.
Having said all that, now for the complete right turn on my comment. My sister has often told me that there’s no hierarchy in God’s design between the sheep and Himself. (i.e. God is on top, then there’s us, His people, no one in between.) He acquiesced to the Israelites’ request for a king, but it was not His design. She pointed out that God even set it up that the priests, the tribe of Levi, had to depend on the 11 tribes for housing and food.
Again from the post,
Here’s what hit me. If you ever try to do an internet search on the word “pastor” in the Bible, you’ll find the claim that it comes from the Latin word for shepherd. Nowhere in the Bible do we ever see an illustration where the shepherd’s job is to teach the sheep.
What is a shepherd’s job? To feed / shelter the sheep and protect them from predators, even the 23rd Psalm. It’s always about taking care of the sheep and protecting them. A shepherd even gives his life for the sheep if need be.
What offices are there in the Bible? Elder and deacons / deaconesses. Elders are older sheep with the wisdom and maturity that come with age and a walk with God to teach the younger. Deacons / deaconesses care for the sheep. There is leadership in the Bible. There is not spiritual hierarchy just as my sister has pointed out to me.
In my opinion, we have been groomed to believe that if someone is born male and gets passing grades at a seminary than he’s been given an extra dose of the Holy Spirit than the rest of us. I am being slightly facetious in that no one actually claims he has an extra dose of the Holy Spirit and I don’t think people consciously believe he does yet we are groomed to view him as a Spiritual Authority.
Isn’t that the problem, and why this blog is so necessary? It’s because the appointed shepherds by and large are not feeding and protecting the sheep from predators who are devouring the sheep.
Again from the post:
True under-shepherds ARE sheep, elders / deacons / deaconesses. I’m seemingly contradicting myself here, but not really. I would say true under-shepherds are drawn from this pool of sheep.
Bottom Line: The primary job of a shepherd is to care for the sheep and protect them from predators.
That’s not what we see in the visible church today. We see one pastor perhaps called an Elder also, but who is given more authority and is presumed to have more Spiritual enlightenment than the rest of the Elders and the church. He’s relied upon to teach Scripture to the Elders and the congregation. He is presumed to be more qualified to teach than the rest and due more respect and authority because he got passing grades at seminary and often because a committee over a few months or years studied his resume to make sure they think his doctrine’s okay and to see if he seems like a decent person. He’s seldom to never from the immediate group of Christians who has the wisdom that comes with life experiences and from walking with God through the years and who has the knowledge of and love for the sheep in that congregation before being appointed.
I’ll conclude it with the part of the post where Barbara nailed it with all the pastors I see:
1[August 5, 2022: We added the link to Julie Roys’ post Willow Creek Co-Founder Accused of Sexual Misconduct Sues Church & Elders for Defamation. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that post. Editors.]
2[August 5, 2022: We added the link to Franklin Graham’s promoted Tweet. The Tweet in the Internet Archive link (from October 21, 2020, the closest Internet Archive copy we could find after the approximate May 30, 2020 date mentioned by Sister) shows 196,771 Likes and 25,040 Retweets. Editors.]
Sister, your comment has given me MUCH food for thought. Thank you! 🙂 I’ll probably be making several responses to it. My first idea was to read the Wikipedia article titled “Pastor” — not that I trust Wikipedia, but sometimes it gives a good overview of a topic.
Then I checked the New Testament of the Matthew Bible to see if it uses the word ‘pastor’. It does not. Not once did William Tyndale use the word ‘pastor’ when he translated the New Testament into English. Tyndale used the word ‘shepherd’ where many modern translations use ‘pastor’.
A painting of young David the shepherd, after he had slain a lion to protect his flock.
Source — The Shepherd David [Internet Archive link] (Artist: Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau, Date: ca. 1895.)
Sister wrote —
That is a classic “Bait and Switch”.
From Encyclopedia Britannica [Internet Archive link]1 —
(the bait) = God
(the switch) = Franklin
1[August 5, 2022: We added the link to Encyclopedia Britannica’s page on Bait and Switch. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
Sister commented (2ND JUNE 2020 – 10:50 PM):
In the same comment, Sister commented:
From the original post:
From the original post:
I think there are many false under-shepherds who teach some truth. I have sought to learn the truths they teach while discerning, rejecting, resisting and exposing their wrong teaching. That has been my walk in Christ since 1995 when I started going to church services and calling myself a Christian. Since 1995 I have been praying and reading the Bible almost every day, studying theology and doctrine.
Philippians 2:12 comes to mind:
For me, working out my salvation in fear and trembling has been very much about discerning truth from falsehood, sifting true teaching from false teaching, discerning whether a leader is focused on preserving his or her authority more than protecting the sheep, discerning what battles are worth fighting, repenting of self-conceit and disciplining myself to pray for those who have mis-taught or misused me, and trying to not be a false-shepherd myself.
Amen and Amen!
I also agree with what Sister said here:
Sister, thank you so much for your carefully thought out and researched comment. Very helpful and fortifying in these perilous days of shaking (judgement, I believe) in the ‘c’/church and in the world.
I, too, came to conclude that the one you refer to as “neutral” Pastor has zero discernment….after having previously benefited from many of his sermons and writings. With the many challenges and dangers each believer has to face in his / her own life and especially in these rapidly-changing times, a so-called leader or pastor with zero discernment is not merely unhelpful, but a threat to sheep’s very survival.
You wrote (2ND JUNE 2020 – 10:50 PM):
Many fiction authors, some with high levels of scholarly education (or sometimes “scholarly education”) and / or high levels of personal experience(s) (or sometimes high levels of “personal experience(s)”) put ginormous amounts of research into their books, painting a WAY more accurate picture of institutional / “institutional” / church / “church” / political / “political” / systemic / “systemic” / authoritarian / “authoritarian” / medical / “medical” / many kinds of sexual / etc. / “etc.” abuse (and other things) than some of the so-called experts / “experts”.
Many of ^Those fiction authors provided me with much needed “paper-friends”, and my “paper-friends” were WAY truer friends to me than the real folks in my life that I had THOUGHT were friends (but turned out to be “friends”).
Some secular authors provide WAY more historical (and readable!) and accurate background information into their books than some of the so-called experts / “experts”.
I read ^Those kind of books, and learned how to survive in a world / “world” that thought I was: “boring”, “cold”, “aloof”, “crazy”, “sick”, “too-sensitive”, “stupid”, “defective”, a “liar”, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.
The key thing is applying critical thinking to ANY book (and oftentimes learning (for good or ill) WAY more about the author / the subject material / etc. than was intended and / or wanted by the author / the reader).
Adding on to my own comment….
Many scientific / “scientific” and / or political / “political” articles use various types of sampling methods (some of which produce more truthful / “truthful” information than others), and SOME articles use various questions in a (potentially biased for any number of reasons) survey.
I was reminded of a book by a Quaker, and how the questions he (the Quaker) used in a personal-to-him example should (and yes, I am deliberately “shoulding”!!) be used as a primer on how to NOT ask leading questions.
Imagine how things like Nouthetic counselling (etc.) would be turned on its head if folks practiced (to quote from the original post):
Perhaps, then, fewer of us would be mis-labelled, fall through the cracks, etc..
Thank you, Barbara / James / Finding Answers / Gany T. for your responses to my comment!
James, good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right!
Finding Answers, you said,
You’re right about books and you are not those adjectives that the world thought! Many people do not understand or appreciate others who are not like them. I find your perspective on blog posts and comments interesting. It is their loss!
In response to my own comment:
I don’t mean to imply that younger people cannot also teach older people a thing or two. Paul told Timothy not to let people despise his youth and I’ve often heard teachers say that they learn from their students.
My overall point is in regard to emphasis. I believe the visible churches are more of a caricature of the prescription in the Bible than actually what is taught in the Bible. It’s not that a shepherd can’t be a teacher, it’s that the job of a shepherd is to feed and protect the flock from predators, not to have Spiritual authority over the sheep.
When the thought / realization popped into my head last Saturday about the job description of a shepherd being to protect not to teach, I thought of the Bible passage where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, and his response to Peter’s answer of loving Him was “Feed my Sheep.”
John 21:15-17 (NASB1995)
Here are some Bible passages that support my premise that God did not design His Church to assign anyone Spiritual authority:
Matthew 20:20-28 (NASB1995)
Matthew 21:23-27 (NASB1995)
This passage is particularly relevant:
Matthew 23:8-10 (NASB1995)
I want to end with re-visiting part of Barbara’s comment to Finding Answers:
Let’s substitute “pastor” with “shepherd” and Barbara as one of the sheep. The “shepherd” (church hireling) felt entitled / assumed he had authority over a sheep to remove a Facebook comment, a comment where one of the sheep felt she was alerting other sheep that a famous well-thought of pastor was not what he represented himself to be. When she asked if he read the link, trying to reason with him, he was indignant and assumed a sheep was attempting to exert authority over him instead of submitting to his authority.
Who was the true shepherd (or under-shepherd to use Barbara’s term from the posts) in this story? It was not the church hireling. It was Barbara. Barbara was alerting the other sheep to a famous well-thought of pastor potentially being false. She was neither claiming nor exerting authority. Barbara was protecting sheep. The hireling was concerned about his position and authority and what people would think. He was not concerned about finding the truth and investigating. He was not concerned about the well-being of one of the sheep he was talking to.
What if Barbara was wrong? Shouldn’t he have examined the evidence and left the 99 sheep (to use Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-6) to go get her and reason with her to bring her back in the fold? (I am not suggesting Barbara is wrong. I’ve looked at much of the evidence and find the things she asserts are compelling.) This man may have the title of shepherd, but he is not a true shepherd at all. Barbara doesn’t wear the title, but she is a fellow sheep who is a true under-shepherd. She looks out for the sheep!
You wrote (6TH JUNE 2020 – 10:42 PM):
In the same comment, you wrote:
From the original post:
My own (personal) quirky sense of humour.
Sister cited some Scripture (6TH JUNE 2020 – 10:42 PM), which I read (while reading her comment) early this Sunday morning.
I found that writing my original reply to Sister’s comment posed some difficulty, as the Scripture she (Sister) cited was blossoming into the seeds of multiple sermons in my mind. 🙂
From the original post:
Thanks, Finding Answers, that’s a very pertinent Scripture. 🙂
Finding Answers, I agree with Barb. That Scripture often speaks to me as well.
Apparently, if you aim to please men, you can’t serve Him. And you can’t serve Him, if you aim to please men.
The two don’t go together. It’s one or the other. I confess that I have often tied the two together, and that’s like oil and water—they don’t mix. They aren’t meant to be mixed. They are two completely separate and distinct materials.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with being a blessing to humanity and that is pleasing to the Lord, as well as a blessing to Him—-when we defend the oppressed, that blesses humanity and is pleasing to Him as well, for example.
But defending the oppressed is not necessarily a blessing to ALL of humanity! Especially if in defending the oppressed, the oppressed is rebuked. Portions of humanity will likely have a problem with that.
The point is that pleasing people is NOT the exact same thing, at all, as pleasing Him. Paul’s boldness and bravery, not to mention his steadfastness, both convicts me of sin AND compels me to fix my eyes on Who is above, not on who is below.
You wrote (15TH JUNE 2020 – 9:13 PM):
You also wrote:
You also wrote:
You wrote (15TH JUNE 2020 – 9:13 PM):
So many Christians / “Christians” believe that the only way to know the (Triune) God is through reading the Bible and / or contemplating the (Triune) God’s creation.
For me, for any number of reasons, I learn to know the (Triune) God through a myriad of different ways.
I once commented on the ACFJ blog:
For me, ^That time spent with Jesus would teach me about His love for me.
It did me good, Finding Answers, to read your picture of you walking down a dusty road with Jesus having a conversation about the vagaries of life.
From the original post:
The individuals who are hirelings in the office of shepherd will emphasize the use of titles (especially if they have “piece(s) of paper” (aka “higher education”)).
The individuals who are hirelings in the office of shepherd will emphasize the use of “titles” (especially if they hide behind the “title”).
The individuals who are hirelings in the office of shepherd will emphasize the use of titles and / or “titles” (especially if they have something to hide (aka cover-up)).
(You can substitute secular words for the word “shepherd” in the above categories and the sentences are still valid.)
Blogs, media (of all kinds), etc. have MANY examples of any (or all) of the above categories.