I wanted to take just one place in New Testament life where manipulation affected the lives of well-meaning and very Godly people. This is just one scenario out of the many lessons in the epistles writen by the patriarch apostles to their spiritual children. The example which follows, although, is Jesus, bringing something to light in a very amazing church. Sobering!
Check out this verse: Revelation 2:18-20 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
Now I wanted to bring it home for us by giving some perspective right off the bat on why understanding manipulative difficulties within a local church setting is crucial for both leaders and attendants or members of a church. The claws and grips of spiritual state of affairs are usually under the radar of the common individual who is enjoying what God is doing in the local church. Being a senior pastor, lends me to the more in depth panorama of behind-the-scene issues involved in running and leading a local church. This is important because I am not just pointing out people in general who are manipulated. I want to shed light on the fact that manipulation can exist anywhere where human nature is in operation.
The scene of the local church is a complex one. Following God, being the probable main objective of every leader, mixed with the many states of maturity of those within the congregation is a very sticky picture. You also have various levels of commitment levels, understanding levels, denominational backgrounds, perspectives and interpretations of the leadership, and one of the most crucial – various degrees of wounded-ness within the hearts of individuals. Pastoring a church is like managing a car without always having the place and right from people to understand what’s going on under the hood. People have various comfort levels, trust issues, struggles with insecurities, agendas, personal ambitions, extremely different expectations, pressures smothering people’s capacity to both love God and receive from you as a leader.
Dealing with a jezebel is complex. Understanding manipulation is the core playground to be equipped with and familiar with in order to begin to understand how to deal with this person or spirit influencing the actions of this spirit. A usual charismatic approach would be to simply pray and leave it to God. Although that is our main manner of managing, through prayer, it’s important for each of us to have discernment, wisdom, and steps of action in handling these situations.
Here Jesus said, “You get an “A” in love. You get an “A” in serving. You get an “A” in persistence. You get an “A” in faith. But you get an “F” in handling manipulation.”
Most pastors would be grateful and excited to pastor a church which excels in basically the core New Testament values systems – faith, servanthood, patience, and of course, love. But Jesus called their deficiency, they lacked either will-power or “how-to” on handling and stopping a manipulation person who had lied, wrongfully called herself prophetic, and was rooted into the local church, and obviously doing damage.
Uprooting a relationally rooted person in a local church usually comes with great sacrifice, with many parts of potential explosive scenarios on the scene, usually not caught by many. Some plow ahead with no skill or strategy by attacking the person and causing a woundedness which goes beyond what they wanted and expected. Retaliation among the flock begins to take its toll and subtraction to life, energy, momentum, attendance, and courage begins to take place.
What has taken place, is a manipulative person or picture has developed. Roots have found their way into different strengths of the church like ropes, tying things together, and causing things to be diabolically connected in ways where pulling one piece, causes 10 to 20 pieces to fall to the floor. In other words, making forceful decisions with a shot gun approach can cause way more damage to a local church seemingly than the manipulation itself.
This probably is some of the main reasons in America, 1,500, pastors quit or end or burnout from ministry altogether, PER MONTH! Wow! Think about that. These manipulation headquarters can be a local church with an honest leader trying to make things happen while following God to the best of his ability.
Power threats, doused with intimidation and scary actions cause the pastor to be gripped not just under the power of manipulation, but they feel manipulation starting to maneuver the flock altogether. The pastor begins to watch some in the flock going through vulnerable misunderstandings, not realizing that they could themselves be a part of a mass deceptive scheme happening. Half-truths, lies, gossip, demonization of the character of the leader, accusation against misunderstood and unexplained actions of the leader, cause an emergence of strength within the plot of the manipulator.
I have lately been saying, it’d be interesting if God removed the power of witchcraft from a city, how many churches within that city would actually close down. Many well-meaning Christians could technically qualify as authentic witches by the actual degree of mind-control they exude upon others in that local church.
Keep in mind, this happens to a church, not just because many Christians are vulnerable to manipulation, but also because satan hates what God has given to the local church. He has given the local church His presence and sonship. Satan hates the church because of that. More to that bargain, woundedness is a major player in the lives and worldviews that make up the chemistry and interactions of manipulators with the manipulated.
It’s important to not aim to call anyone out as a “jezebel” within a local church at all costs, but to know how to manage situations through properly identifying the context of how certain situations are made up, knowing how to disarm them through our own repentance and assuming of full responsibility of our part of the ordeal, and to grow in strength in resistance tactics which make us more immune to manipulation altogether.
Manipulation eats up many leaders, members, and disciples of the local church. The worst part of the tragedy is the weakening of the Kingdom advancement eaten up by the vicious appetite by the spirit of manipulation.
It’s no wonder Jesus addresses manipulation within this local church – think about how it prevents the Holy Spirit from being able to inspire men and women with direction. Think about how it puts brakes on the Will of God within the lives of certain people (though His Kingdom, nothing can stop). Think about the disillusionment it brings to young disciples, and God loving souls with very little strength. Think about the reinforcing warfare brought upon those who already struggle with a form of torment or bondage within that local church. Think about how jezebel creates a confirmation to the ideas and accusatory deadly words spoken against the leader of a local church, backing those who hold offense, or hold bitterness or resentment against the leader. Think about all the souls that leave the local church, and never return. Think about what it does to the honor of the name of our King, Jesus.
This is not to create another level of intimidation within our minds. This is not to magnify the power of manipulative spirits. This is paint a more in depth picture into our hearts to bring insight to us on how deep manipulative situations make up the picture of a local church. If manipulation takes geography of a local church, then how much does that impact the influence of God’s Spirit in the context that men and women are vulnerable to an intimidation that prevents them. Though He’s God, His children suffer at the heels of manipulation, especially when untrained to recognize manipulation, or betting yet, their very vulnerabilities to manipulation. If we stay uninformed, we will remain vulnerable.
The equipping concept is crucial. Ephesians 4 actually says leaders are to equip the Body for the work of the ministry. Actually, the word “equip” in Greek is the word meaning “repair” believers for the work of the ministry. Repaired people are more whole. They become less and less vulnerable to the strings of manipulation.
Dealing with this type of teaching is far from tidy. It’s a nasty topic. It’s horrific on some scales. It surfaces the grossest aspects of ministry and simultaneously surfaces probably some of the worst of human nature altogether. Manipulation means we can have many reasons to make some heart-checks, and also go through various degrees and seasons of repentance when examination reveals our heart is guilty of participation.
The more little teachings on this topic you hear, the most your understanding will attain perspective, revealing to you the complexities of human nature at its worst. Moreover, it’s important for you to understand blind spots are brutal. Convincing someone of a blind spot takes the help of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: “Holy Spirit, we ask you for your help. Bring truth to me as I join into this teaching. Reveal tools and equipment to my spirit man. Open my eyes to be able to see things happening on a whole new level. In Yeshua’s name, Amen.”