Lording it Over the Flock Creates an Abuser-friendly Climate
Matthew 20:25-26 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
1 Peter 5:2-3 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
We Christians speak of servanthood, self-denial, considering others more important than ourselves, and rightly so. These qualities and attitudes are all taught in Scripture to all who desire to follow Christ. But we must constantly be on guard against our sinful flesh which desires to be first, like Diotrephes (3 John). This self-seeking “lording it over” mentality is far easier to slide into than we might realize. In fact, the prevalence of abusers who seem to be comfortable masquerading as Christians in our churches would indicate that a “lording it over” climate exists all too commonly among us, often expressed in some kind of patriarchal society. How does this all come about?
It comes about quite subtly, without planning. Someone in the church, often a pastor or some other “notable” personality, has a kind of charisma, a giftedness (not necessarily from the Holy Spirit), an unusual talent. It might be in public speaking, preaching, or in writing ability. These talents are met with some “success” and acclaim, and so the person is cheered on. Pretty soon, people like this are offering their “advice” on various areas of our lives: marriage, family, sex, finances, spiritual life, and so on. And at some point, the people are expected to implement this person’s teachings. “This is how a husband functions. Here is how a wife is to relate to him. You must do this and that in raising your children. Let me give you some bedroom advice. This is the Bible version you must use…..” and on and on and on it goes.
And I recommend to you that this is lording it over the flock. This is morphing into a “great one” who inevitably will be guilty of “exercising authority” over Christ’s people in a way that Christ has not endorsed. Not leading by example and thus using authority rightly, but “domineering” by becoming the “dominant one” like a chief rooster in the coop. Soon, the enjoyment of such acclaim will morph into expectation and entitlement to that acclaim, which, as you can now see, is quite close to the entitlement mentality (if not identical) of the abuser. Like produces like.
Think about this. Just how specific does the Bible get in giving us the Lord’s instruction on following Christ and living for Him? Are we told to home-school and forbidden to enroll our children in public schools? No. Are we told how a wife specifically is to do tasks in the home? No. Are we told specifically in detail that the husband/father is to gather the family in the living room every evening at 7PM and begin with prayer, then a hymn, then move on into Bible instruction? No. What we are given are timeless principles. A homemaker is to love her family. Parents are to raise up their children in the instruction and nurture of the Lord. Husbands are to love their wives. Christians are to dress with modesty. We are to pray for the king, but we are not told to always and only be members of the conservative political party.
When someone in the church begins to give more specific instructions, then commands, than Holy Scripture gives, then they are beginning to lord it over the flock. And they are starting to feed the evil fires of the abuser’s twisted heart.
Colossians 2:18-19 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.