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When Church Leaders Mistreat You

It takes courage and strength to replace anger with love

The words mistreatment and church leader shouldn't be in the same sentence, but unfortunately sometimes they are. The fact is, many people on staff, as well as members of the church, are mistreated by their leaders.

My husband and I were mistreated by our pastor, and we witnessed his mistreatment of others. In a leadership meeting one evening the senior pastor embarrassingly interrupted an associate who was sharing his excitement about an upcoming event. Another associate walked past me during a church fellowship and blurted out his frustration with the pastor. On another occasion, a different associate was sarcastically corrected during Sunday morning service by the pastor. My husband, a board member, was ignored and overlooked by the pastor on many occasions.

I cannot speak for the others who were mistreated, but in our case it was hurtful. I hurt for my husband who does his best to live a moral life yet felt he wasn't valued by someone he looked up to and respected. At first mistreatment is a shock because we expect the people in leadership to be loving and tender, as Jesus was. It's hard to be in church excited to save souls yet sidetracked by this kind of behavior. When mistreatment occurs, respect is lost and the kingdom of God suffers.

How Do We Move On?

Mistreatment by leaders can be painful, but how can we continue to live for Jesus, respect those in authority, and save souls? There are many ways we can continue to live out our calling for God after we've been hurt, and one way is to pray. Paul told us to pray about everything. No matter how hurt we are, praying should not cease. We should be praying through our pain as well as for those who hurt us. First Timothy 2:1-4 calls us to pray for our leaders. My husband continued to pray every night for our senior pastor despite how hurt he was. Mistreatment is wrong, but so is not praying for those we serve. If we pray daily for church leaders, we will see a change within the dynamic. It might be hard to pray for someone who hurt you, but this should be done anyway if you care about the kingdom of God. The more we fight against the darkness, the more power we have in God's kingdom.

Talking with the person who hurt you is also an option. In our case we never had a chance to speak directly with our pastor about our feelings, but if you're able to, set up a meeting. It could very well bridge the gap as the person may not be aware of hurting you. Our culture today is text- and email-friendly, with little room available for direct conversation. A personal talk might make the difference.

April27, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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