Pink Elephant Alert
Have you been spiritually abused? I’ll walk out on a limb and say that if you are in ministry, then you probably have — we all have and sadly, may not even realize it is what it is.
Spiritual abuse has been defined as “a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who we are. It leaves us spiritually discouraged and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God.”
But why does it happen? Generally, by “the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining, or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.” But there are other causes as well.
I honestly didn’t realize there was such a thing until I had it happen to me. The last 15 months have been the hardest months of the nearly 5 years I’ve been in active ministry (internship to full-time employment). I don’t believe there is anything more damaging to someone’s spiritual walk than when it is plagued by spiritual abuse and its aftermath.
If you have experienced spiritual abuse, you know the result. Those who have experienced it, know it is powerful enough to cause them to question their relationship with God, and even, the very existence of God. There are feelings of hopelessness, anger, sadness, loneliness, need of escape, loss of joy and loss of peace.
But the damage that has been done is not irreversible. It is possible to feel safe again. It is possible to learn to rest again. It is possible to regain that sense of blessing you once had. And somewhere along the way… the joy returns. It is possible to even trust again.
The cynic can become the optimist. Believe me of that one.
Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.
If you you are in midst of spiritual abuse, and would like prayer or someone to talk to … please let me know. I’d love to walk alongside of you.
Experiencing and/or have had experiences with spiritual abuse? Discuss.
I often find that spiritual abuse happens when people (mostly with good intentions) tell you that they have “heard from God” for you and you allow them to speak into your life. We need to remember that a word from God needs to be confirmed in your heart and it should not be “news” to you. I have seen young peoples lives beaten up because other people have put “thus sayeth the lord” on the end of a piece of advice.
Speaking from your own flesh and saying its from God is actually taking the Lord’s name in vain. Guard your hearts…guard your dreams. Even people with good intentions will try to put their advice on you in the name of God.
I agree wholeheartedly with JudiFree in that once some slaps the prefix of “God told me …” onto their sentence we need to be very careful about how we’re receiving that (1 John 4).
A very typical trap young Christians get snared in is that their lips quiver for the water of hearing anything from God. Often times the spiritually corrupt are confident to douse their lips in hopes of recognition and therefore evidence of their prideful spiritual superiority.
If anyone has been caused to stumble (in any way) I would go to the offender and tell them how they’ve hurt you, wait on their apology and promptly forgive them. If they are stubborn then take a witness (possibly someone you’ve shared your hurt with). If that doesn’t work take it to your church’s leadership (Matthew 18).
This is a real test of faith. The faster this happens the faster it can be resolved without the temptation of harboring bitterness. Run to your problem. Godspeed.
Thank you for writing about this topic. About 4 years ago I was in ministry and on the receiving end of spiritual abuse. At the time I didnt know that’s what was happening to me. It came to a point where I left ministry and pretty much checked out of my relationship with God. I still went to church, but I was one bitter woman.
Thankfully, God drew out the bitterness and replaced it with fresh perspective, joy and a more intimate relationship with Him. However, it was a long and painful process to trust God again. My very first blog post was about what I went through during that season of healing.
I too am here for anyone that needs someone to pray with or to talk things through. To contact me, you can go to my blog and click the ’email me’ link.
Great post, thanks.
My husband and I experienced spiritual abuse in a Bible-based cult. We have been out of our cult for seven years and recently started a support group. The first couple who joined were in a ministry that was spiritual abusive. Their story touched me in a deep way because I had also wanted to be in a church ministry.
Thank you for posting this information. Cultic and spiritual abuse is far more rampant that most Christians believe. As believers, it is imperative that we embrace those who have come out of those types of situations and gently help them find their way back to God.
Wendy J. Duncan
Author: I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult
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