Tyrannical Pastors Should be Fired
I. What Does the Bible Say About Tyrannical Pastors
II. Why Tyrannical Church Leaders Should be Confronted
III. How to Fire Spiritually Unfit Pastors
What Does the Bible Say About Tyrannical Pastor
The Bible says that tyrannical behavior should be confronted whether from a church leader or others. You do remember: “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness rather reprove them”, right? Who can forget John the Baptist confronting a wicked Herod who believed even his brothers wife belonged to him?
I will forego encouraging “prayer” and “seeking the face of God” in this post. Like Joshua at AI, there is sin in the camp which needs to be destroyed! Christians pray but rarely act. It seems the only action most take IS prayer. Further, by the time things have escalated to searching for, and finding this subject specific post, it is well past the time to accept that your "faith without works is dead"!
Bullying within church leadership is serious and contradicts scripture. The Bible provides several passages that emphasize the importance of treating others with love, respect, and humility. To get a better idea on what “love is” and what “love is not”, please read the Book of 1st Corinthians 13.
Here are seven (7) scriptural teachings against bullying in church leadership:
1. Ephesians 4:32 - Believers are called to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving because God has forgiven us. This verse emphasizes the need to exhibit grace by treating one another with love.
2. 1st Peter 5:3 – We church leaders are instructed not to be “domineering or controlling”, but to be humble examples to the congregation. Combine this with 1st Corinthians 13 and "who” you are dealing with becomes evident.
3. Matthew 23:11-12 - Jesus criticizes the bullying tendencies of religious leaders and teaches that true greatness comes from serving. This passage reminds us to embody humility rather than seeking power and control.
4. Galatians 5:22-23 - The fruits of the Spirit, which include love, patience, kindness, and gentleness, directly oppose sociopathic bullying. Leaders are encouraged to manifest these “fruits” while encouraging others to do likewise.
5. Colossians 3:12-13 - Believers are urged to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgive one (1) another. This passage highlights the importance of leaders embodying these virtues which creates an atmosphere of forgiveness.
6. Proverbs 14:21 – Proverbs emphasizes how crucial it is to show kindness to the poor, which includes those Jesus described as “poor in spirit”. It further serves as a reminder to show support to all members of the congregation.
7. Matthew 20:25-28 – In this text, Jesus teaches that leaders should not exercise authority or “lord” over others. It further teaches serving and giving our lives for others. This passage challenges us to adopt a servant’s approach which prioritizes the well-being of God’s sheep.
In summary, using these teachings, amongst hundreds of others, will foster an environment of love, respect, and humility. This builds trust among God’s people which edifies the Kingdom of God.
Why Tyrannical Church Leaders Should be Confronted
Let’s first define ‘religious tyrant’ before proceeding. A religious tyrant is anyone who violates God’s explicit command against “lording over his people”. Those God truly called to preach His Word are purveyors of information only. Many will complicate the issue with flowery language but don’t let them deceive you. Like Jesus, we preach, teach, and allow hearers to decide next steps.
I have heard leaders openly discuss “best practices” in leading God’s people. Most often, I chuckle because there are two (2) extremes of manifestation. First are the “cowboys” who drive cattle with spiritual whips. These are tyrannical bullies who view you as "beef to feed on" rather than "sheep to feed". Then there are the real God sent Shepherds who “guide sheep” gently, as He commanded.
Here are just a few reasons tyrannical church leaders should be confronted:
1. They are on their way to hell. Jesus was clear when stating: “you are either with me or against me. If you are not gathering with me you are scattering abroad.” If leaders are manipulating free will, they are scattering abroad and thereby, standing against the Word of God (Jesus). Hell will be their home and unfortunately, many are in hell for not repenting of this.
2. This demonstrates spiritual unfitness to lead. Those of you who have followed a leader for a while, understand who he is, and who he is not. For those with a new Shepherd, watch intently how he treats his wife and family. Moreover, watch her, and how she responds to him. Sooner or later, abusers come out of hiding. Please read 1st Timothy 3 which describes what a spiritually fit leader is.
3. Eventually your faith will be damaged. Religious tyrants will always discourage the faithful. Why someone would continue to follow such abusers is beyond my understanding. Nevertheless, those who have followed, and then gotten away, understand the damage suffered in staying too long.
In summary, religious tyrants are always irresponsible church leaders and must be confronted. God did not call us to rob people of free will, and Scripture teaches the same. Further, such unrepentance proves unfitness to lead.
How to Fire Spiritually Unfit Pastors
Matthew 18:15-17 applies to US church leaders as well! Pastors who cross the line into spiritual abuse, have been confronted, and are unrepentant, forfeit leadership. I have taught our congregation this too many times to remember. Opening this door has brought us closer together than I knew was possible. I am not always right, have told them so, and we stand on this.
Yet, I know, and have served with Pastors who are religious tyrants. Some justify their behavior, both in the home and church, using the Bible. For instance, 1st Timothy 3 outlines the qualifications of a church leader. The unrepentant use the “rule his own house well” clause to justify spiritual tyranny.
Ongoing conduct detrimental to the congregation must be dealt with biblically. As a leader, I know it is extraordinary to encourage God’s sheep to rid themselves of such people. However, I have seen the damage up close, and it is heartbreaking. This demonic behavior destroys churches both in the short and long term.
Here is how to fire a tyrannical Pastor. This assumes you have followed the entire Matthew 18 process to its conclusion:
1. Call a meeting with both spiritual and fiduciary leadership. When things have gotten here, there is more damage than most understand. Some churches have Boards of Deacons, while other Boards of Elders. Whatever the hierarchy, this is where the process must begin. This is a spiritual issue and must be confronted as such. Fiduciary leadership, meaning whoever signs legal incorporation, tax, or other documents, must be included as well. If there is legal fallout, they’ll be the leaders called to face the consequences. I know what scripture says about “suing one (1) another”. But if your leader believed God’s Word, things would not have escalated to this point, right?
2. Cogently document the charges. This should not be a list of every offense. However, if there is ongoing abuse, the overall pattern of behavior has not changed, and have thus become an issue. Allow 1st Timothy 3 to guide your list. We can argue with you, God’s people, but few will argue with the Word when presented with it. This process must be rational and devoid of as much emotion as possible. Who is the Deacon, Elder or other that has the gifting of remaining calm under pressure? Whoever reads the charges to the tyrant must be bold as well as cool under pressure. Bullies will try and "cut you off" and dominate the conversation. No matter what, keep reading the list until finished.
3. Treat the tyrant’s supporters with love. Pulpit tyrants select the weakest for exploitation. Sure, they will frame it as “supporters of the vision” or other manipulative proclamations, but it is exploitation. I know a leader who has a mentally disabled person performing their bidding because leaders have been discouraged. These sorts do not value “competence”, they value “control”. However, have mercy on those who are blind and desire to continue allowing no consequences for abusers. Have empathy, but keep the process moving without argument. In a spiritual sense, they are like the wife who claims the abuse she endures is not as bad as it obviously is.
4. Confront the Pastor. By the time this meeting is called, he expects some form of “trouble”. They refuse to examine themselves, and have labeled the Saints (standing for righteousness) as “troublemakers”. Yet like any good abuser, they believe it is easy to manipulate their way out of this. Even if he apologizes, it is just a ploy to remain in power! Again, I remind you I am a church Pastor, and understand their demon possessed behavior. Do not argue or try and convince him of wrong. State the facts, listen, and steadfastly move forward. He must repent, be reconciled to God, and restored to fellowship, but it must be somewhere else.
5. Announce a churchwide meeting. This should be done quickly. Do not allow this already open wound to fester. The religious tyrants will be “working the phone”, trying to remain, and manipulating people for the upcoming vote. Never forget you are dealing a demon possessed sociopath. I endured this for almost a year with a "rogue" associate minister who desired to Pastor. I was the Interim Pastor at the time, and did not have the authority to deal with him directly.
6. Remain peaceful. I have been in such church business meetings, and they never go well. In a perfect world, the Pastor would simply resign, behind closed doors, having been convicted of sin. However, deceived sociopaths will never accept this entire episode is their sin (fault). It will be an emotional, spiritual, and physically exhausting time but remain strong. Spiritual church leadership, such as a Deacon Board, should guide the meeting, announce charges, and allow the Pastor to respond. Assuming your church is autonomous, and governed by congregational vote, after he has spoken call the vote. Allowing everyone to “have their say” will only lead to more chaos and will not change the vote count by even one (1). 100% have already decided how they will vote, and nothing will change their minds. Call the vote and live with the consequences.
7. Prepare for a church split. Abusers, just like street hustlers, are very charismatic. If they are “voted out”, some will leave with him. Again, these men will not repent, and will never admit fault. The minister spoken of earlier was just such a person. For nearly ten (10) months, he caused chaos, was abusive to church leaders, and even went to jail for abusing his wife. I asked: "is anything your fault or do you just blame everyone else"? He did what bullies do, and blamed me! Therefore, your now "former" Pastor will find sympathy from a few by labeling those who stood up against their sin as “evil”.
In summary, there are steps to relieve an abusive Pastor. For those who have a more hierarchical governance structure, such as Bishops who oversee Pastors, this is all a moot point. However, autonomous church leadership must guide the congregation through this time. For those who have demonically fired real Men of God, for no righteous reason, God help you on the day of His judgment. You have no idea what you have done.
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