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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: January 13, 2015.

Jack Watts’ weekly column is aimed at helping those who have been wounded, including those who have been abused by the church. If you are in pain—or if someone you know is in pain—you will find real comfort, wisdom, and answers right here. Based on his book, Recovering from Religious Abuse, published by Simon & Schuster, Jack will teach you the value of working the “11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.” Remember, recovery is a process—not a destination. The answers are simple but not always easy. Look to the Lord and allow His Spirit heal you.


Ambition is the ecclesiastical lust—Daniel Noonan


In modern day Christendom, the idea of being called to the ministry has undergone a change—at least for many. Because of this change, which at first is subtle in a person, the seeds of religious abusiveness find fertile ground.


In the early church and in the Scriptures, being called to the ministry meant a person was summoned to serve others, regardless of how those being served would respond. Because the person chosen was serving the Lord, while serving others, fulfillment came from being faithful to God without other worldly aspirations.


By the nature of the office, a minister is the servant of others, or, at least, that’s what the person is supposed to be. In this generation, however, being a servant is no longer the norm. It has flip-flopped. Now, in many instances, it is the minister who is served and not the other way around.

Because of the minister’s skill and calling, many of God’s chosen have been elevated to a class above those to whom they have been called to serve. This reversal of positions has become so entrenched that ministers have become celebrities, adored and venerated by their followers similar to public personalities. This transformation has become so accepted that few realize how far it has drifted from the original model.


Part of the problem is that the terminology hasn’t changed. Ministers still obsequiously refer to themselves as servants but, in their hearts, many are anything but. Often, their self-serving ways lead to abusiveness. When someone gets in their way, the offending person is castigated and discarded—maligned by “God’s servant.” This kind of treatment has become so routine that those who have been called to serve have been responsible for abusing millions of God’s sheep.


If you want to discern falsehood from truth by recognizing spiritual abuse, join me in this prayer:



As the years progress,

I often hear people talk

About how much they trust You,

But their pronouncements seem no deeper

Than those of a fickle lover.

Lacking tangibility and depth,

Their affirmations, which flow mellifluously

From their self-serving mouths,

Have selfish and egotistical motives

That seem devoid of worthwhile substance.

Such loyalty to You has not been forged

By adversity and weathered by hardship.

Their trust seems shallow and juvenile,

Rather than strong, resilient, and steadfast.

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain favor rather than genuine humility,

They come before You with hearts

That are petulant and peevish, lacking gratitude.

I understand this perspective completely,

Having spent decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely

The same self-serving, self-centered way—

Never understanding, never acknowledging

That You know what is best for me.

I concede my effrontery and selfishness.

I have foolishly thought that my way

Was better than Yours, but I have been wrong.

I have wanted my way, believing that

When You have refused to grant it,

That You were distant and detached—

Unloving, uncaring, and rigid.

I was wrong about that, too.

You do know what’s best for me,

Regardless of what that might be.

After years of pursuing frivolity,

I understand the error of my ways.

I wish I had understood it sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom has settled within me,

I bow me knee and acknowledge willingly,

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

Blessed be Your name.



To see more on recovery, check out The 11 Steps to Recover from Religious Abuse.


Refer to Step 4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.


And when it came about that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” (Acts 10:25-26)

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