Thursday, May 20, 2010

Addicted to People?

I want to share some more today from "Jesus and Addiction". Don Williams is putting his finger on something that clearly needs attention in the church and yet I'm not so sure that the church is ready to hear it.

In defining addiction Williams writes, "Addictions begin because we want to experience pleasure and avoid pain. To do this, we attach ourselves to other people, behaviors, and things that make us feel good. Repetitive behavior reinforces such attachments." "We are set up to become addicted; we are creatures who naturally seek pleasure and avoid pain. We are inherently fearful, needing to have our moods altered and welcoming outside control". People will naturally take the path that appears to be least painful and most pleasurable. We will attempt to be at peace with everyone (pleasure) and to avoid conflict (pain) at all costs. This appears spiritual and even Christ-like on the surface until you realize that this mode of operation puts people in charge and reduces Jesus to secondary consideration. You can't obey Jesus if you are obeying people. You can't serve two masters.

Williams makes the application, "How then, does this concept of addiction apply to ministers? Their fear of failure and subsequent abandonment and job loss results in their need to 'people please.' To them their questions easily become, 'What does my church want? How can I make the congregation happy? How can I keep people coming?' The question should rather be, 'What does God say my church needs?' The shift may be subtle, but it's clear. Rather than being God focused, leadership easily becomes human focused and self focused". We stop doing what God wants in order to do what the people (or the board) wants. Pastors become employees of the church rather than servants of the Most High God.

He continues, "In many churches functional authority has passed from Jesus to the people. When pastors continually ask what the official board wants or what the people want, they admit that control from the outside rather than the Spirit's direction on the inside is the ideal state of affairs. Rather than acting, the codependent leaders spends his or her time reacting". Thus we have broken churches who do not and cannot experience the power of the Holy Spirit.

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