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My aim in working through these episodes is to help folks think through the church they attend, the leadership culture of their church, and, potentially, identify things that might not be apparent. I will not provide a “Monday morning play-by-play” critique. I hope you will gain personal insight through this review as well as applications to your teachers and the church you attend.
This episode opened with a review of the fall of Ted Haggard into sexual sin. Mark Driscoll commented about his fall, saying that some women let themselves go, an implied accusation about the complicity of wives when men fall into sexual sin. Mike Cosper then interviewed Rose Swetman, a female “pastor” in Seattle, who set up a meeting with Mark and his friend, Lief Moi, to talk about Mark’s harsh, bullying, and sexual language. That meeting did not bear lasting fruit.
From there, Mike swung over to Indiana and spoke about the godlike status of Bobby Knight and the fallout and damage of his coaching antics. Though there were many subpoints in this episode, the major reason to connect Bobby Knight with Mark Driscoll was to make the point: the end justifies the means (or pragmatism). But two of the subpoints Mike made were about enabling an abuser versus speaking into his life.
1 – Cost: The enablers have a vested interest in the authoritarian staying in his position. They don’t want to do the hard work of trusting God to find a new job.
2 – Fear: They are afraid to say anything because of intimidation or retribution. Many people will choose the perceived path of least resistance because of their fear of the authoritarian.
3 – Unaffected: The abuse does not affect the enablers: out of sight, out of mind. It’s like hearing about tragedies on the other side of the country. We engage only after the tsunami rolls over our banks.
4 – Justification: They don’t want to see it. They justify or rationalize their consciences. Sometimes they blame the authoritarian’s actions on the victims.
5 – Normalize: After you desensitize your conscience through justifications, the behavior becomes normal.
6 – Pragmatism: It’s tempting to look at “all the good” that is happening and justify the process for these “good outcomes.”
7 – Work: Anytime you speak into conflict, there will be a bigger conflict. Some folks look at the scale of the problem and what it would take to work through it and choose not to engage.
8 – Control: They work overtime doing damage control. It’s the “how can keep what I have while mitigating the damages that it’s causing” mindset.
When it’s time to speak up, you must weigh each situation on its merits. Here are a few thoughts about how to engage the authoritarian in increasing order of intensity.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).