Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Subtle Art of Spiritual Abuse Part II - Meet Tom Ledbetter

Tom (sorry Bob Newhart) Ledbetter is a 48 year old man who has been active with CBC since moving to the Kansas City area fifteen years ago. He taught Sunday school many times both for the kids and adult programs. He became an elder and served in that role twice. He was just re-elected elder, the first time since Pete came to the church 15 months earlier.

Tom is married to Sandy and they have two teen-aged sons, Robert and and Calvin. Tom is a quiet man, some see as humble and some (like Pete and maybe Sandy) read as timid or lacking leadership qualities.

When you peel back the layers, Tom does struggle a lot with feelings of inferiority and self-doubt. Part of those feelings may have been created when his dad walked out on the family when he was ten. Deep inside he always felt that it was somehow if was his fault. His dad liked baseball and had been a Pee Wee coach and Tom never could play that well. But in almost unspoken words, deep down he has this unfortunate notion that if he had only played baseball better, his dad would have stayed. But he is a sincere man, without many aspirations to get a lot of attention.

Sandy Ledbetter (played by Patricia Heaton), grew up in the perfect family. Her father was a conservative Baptist minister and she had seven "perfect" siblings. She was very devoted to church work from an early age and attended a very conservative Bible college in the Southeast. She met Tom when the two of them worked together at an insurance company in Saint Louis. They lived there for six years before moving to their present place. Sandy has always pushed Tom to take highly visible roles in the church and frequently voices her disappointment in him. Her level of godliness intimidates Tom further. Also, in her secret places she is awestruck on Pete and at times feels like he is the kind of man she wishes she had married. She would never even talk about this with anyone outside her own head, or even "verbalize" to herself that she has some romantic feelings towards Pete . . . but as a good Christian woman, she is devoted to Tom.

Jeremy Steffens (played by a young John Mayer) is a 26 year old recent Bible college graduate and at his first church as a youth/assistant pastor. He has been married to Ann for two years and they are expecting their first baby. Jeremy loves working with youth, going to concerts, ski trips and doing game night. He is delighted to have a decent paying pastoral job after looking for over a year while he worked odd jobs. He is the son of TEAM missionaries who had
just retired from Kenya. His family has always expected him to go into the ministry. He feels like it was his destiny, although to him, having grown up around missionaries, can hardly take it seriously. He learned at a young age what to say to really impress people. Yet, it did not bother him to take the bus into Nairobi with his fellow Christian boarding school friends and get plastered.

He met Ann at a bar, which no one really knows. She had some Catholic background and honestly, deep in her heart, is somewhat agnostic . . . favoring new age spiritualism . . . but would never talk about it out loud. While Jeremy feels very comfortable in Evangelical circles, it has never come to her easily. She does try very hard to be the good pastors wife, however, before she was pregnant, and with Jeremy's blessing, she use to go clubing in Chicago with her friends knowing that no one in their church would ever find out. That is Jeremy's main condition for her, that she not get caught drinking or dancing . . . if so, he could loose his job.

Jeremy, feels a little intimidated by Pete and jealous at the same time. Yet, he knows that he has to be Pete's yes man or he could loose his job and his health insurance.

But all on the surface, CBC is a wonderful Evangelical church filled with Godly people whose only motives are to do God's perfect will.

1 comment:

Recovering Alumni said...

I look forward to reading the rest!