When Church Leaders Mistreat You

It takes courage and strength to replace anger with love
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In addition, talk to a friend. My husband was on the verge of sharing his feelings with a friend from church until the Holy Spirit stopped him. A week later he made a random phone call to another friend and felt led to share what was happening with our senior pastor. My husband's spirit was lifted. This godly friend showered him with encouragement. He reminded my husband what a wonderful man of God he was. There was no gossip involved. The conversation was less about how the senior pastor had treated my husband and more about who he was in Christ! Find a trusted friend you can share your feelings with.

It's Okay to Leave

If talking does not resolve the problem, remember it's okay to leave. I'm not suggesting you abruptly begin to church hop, but instead pray for God to lead you out. Some people will not want to leave, and I know how hard this can be. We read over and over that leaving a church due to offense is wrong and many people will stay because they feel they're sinning against God. In my opinion, offense and mistreatment are different. I dealt with an offense in which I was prepared to leave a church until I realized it was a misunderstanding. Mistreatment, on the other hand, is ongoing behavior. Kicking a dog every day is more than offensive—it's mistreatment. Leaders may not physically harm you, but public scolding, harsh tones, and being ignored are hurtful and damaging—especially in the kingdom of God. And if talking does not resolve the issue, ask God to lead you to another church.

Peter wrote, “Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (, NIV). We are under the care of church leadership, so mistreatment is not okay. We are not doing God any favors by staying in the midst of it. God would rather we value ourselves and trust his love to lead us into a healthier situation.

Whether you find a new church or stay at your current church, try to remember the good qualities of your leader. We are all capable of hurting others at times and church leaders are no different. It's easier to forgive someone who has a repentant heart, but we can ask God to help us forgive those who never acknowledge their wrongs. We never received an apology from our pastor, but we are grateful for the good he did in our lives. My husband is living his dream today because of the pastor's sermons, and I wrote my book, Breakthrough: Your Doorway to a New Destiny, because the pastor challenged us to stick with our goals. We now attend a new church but appreciate the good from our former pastor. If you ask the Holy Spirit, he will help you remember some of the good as well, and being reminded of the good will help your heart soften, even in the midst of hurt.

April27, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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