Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Subtle Art of Spiritual Abuse Part VI Scene Four

Tom pulls up in his driveway and walks through the front door of his two-story farmhouse. At least it was a house which had started on a farm in the 1890s but had been engulfed in suburbia long since.

Sandy was curled up on the sofa under a blanket (never mind it was a sultry night in the plains), eating popcorn and watching a Hallmark movie. She had her black framed glasses on, indicating she had taking her contacts out and was prepped for bed . . . as soon as the movie was over. She looks up at Tom, “Hi. So how was your meeting?”

Tom grabs a glass of apple juice from the kitchen and sits down beside her. “Okay . . . I guess.”

Sandy watches the movie in silence until the next commercial breaks in. “Why do you say you guess. Wasn't it a good meeting? Pete was certainly pumped up about it today.”

[Side bar: Sandy volunteers in the church office once or twice a week. She is in charge of putting together a weekly newsletter and other tasks.]

“No. I mean, I think pastor Pete was pumped up. You can see his excitement. He is always enthusiastic about everything he does. But I feel a little crummy about a conversation we had after the meeting.”

Sandy reaches for the remote and turns down the volume. Then she makes direct eye contact with Tom for the first time. “So, what did you do?” Her tone reflected some disappointment.

“I didn't do anything. You know that the people in our cell had asked me to lead a group on raising teens in the fall. Pete had other ideas. He wants us to dissect his sermons each Thursday night. So all I did was mention that I had been working on the teen parent curriculum. I was thinking that there was some way we could integrate the two. But he took it very personal.”

“I can understand why he took it personal. He had been planning this fall kickoff for several weeks. It must be hard for him to have one of his elders trying to circumnavigate his plans, especially so soon.”

“Why do you always take his side?”

Sandy drops her feet from the couch to the floor, like she is positioning herself for fighting mode. “I’m not taking anyone’s side. I just care deeply about this church and I want us to be in the center of God’s will. That’s all I’m saying.”

“Sandy, why do you assume that I’m the one leading the church astray and the pastor is the one leading us into God’s perfect will?”

“Well, for one, that’s what the Bible says.”

Tom shakes his head and really looks depressed. Looking into his, now empty, glass he adds, “Where does the Bible teach that everything the pastor says is right and anything anyone else says is wrong? I mean our own church charter says that the elders should hold the pastor accountable. But no one seems to follow that.”

“Tom, the scripture is clear about the chain of authority. I know that my mom and dad honored their pastor completely and would never go behind his back.”

Tom rarely raises his voice, but he did then. “Sandy, I am not going behind his back! I had one simple suggestion that we listen to the needs of the people in our cell and try to accommodate them. I wasn't trying to put a damper on his vision or his plan. But then he says something that really pissed me off. He told me to get behind him, Satan. Was he calling me Satan?”

Sandy with a soft chuckle, “That’s just Pete. He says that a lot. I've seen him say it to the copier when it wasn't working. He just sees hindrances to any ministry as the work of Satan and it bugs him because he is so passionate about serving the Lord. I just wish you weren't always trying to be a trouble maker for him and trying to get me to conspire with you. It is sort of embarrassing. Furthermore, at least pastor Pete doesn't use vulgar words like pissed!”

“Sandy, I’m not a trouble maker. I was just telling you about what happened tonight in the same way that you will tell me about your day. I was not trying to get you to conspire against your blessed pastor. I will just drop it! I will follow his plan for the small group and forget about the hours I spent on trying to create a lesson plan.”

“So it is about you.”

“I’m done here. “ Tom got up and walked towards the bedroom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I've seen this abuse firsthand. We had a Pete, Tom and Sandy in our church. Pete belittled and ridiculed Tom until he resigned his position as elder. Pete then "anointed" Sandy as worship leader. Needless to say, Tom and Sandy are now divorced, but Sandy still works for Pete.