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Summary: Ask the Lord to help people respond to the Spirit’s conviction whenever they fall into the following traps that manifest the corrosive effects of abuse in relationships and ministries

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Sixteen Ways to Identify Abuse (John 16:7-16:9)

Illustration:Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You . . . have prepared for those who trust in You. --Psalm 31:19

Renee still believed in God’s existence, but for many years she didn’t trust Him. And no wonder! As a small child, she had been mistreated by a cruel father. This trauma left such deep emotional scars that she blamed herself and felt she didn’t deserve to live.

When she became an adult, she married but couldn’t believe that her husband loved her. Nor could she accept God’s love. Why had He let her go through so much pain? She couldn’t bring herself to trust Him.

Some victims of child abuse try to find an escape in drugs, alcohol, and immoral conduct, but Renee chose a different course. "Finally, I surrendered to a God I didn’t even trust," she wrote. "My foundation was crumbling so fast that I held on to the only shred of hope I could find--God!" He responded by making the Bible come alive to her. Christian friends came into her life, one of whom was a pastor who cried with her and counseled her. Since that time, much healing has occurred. She says she has learned that although God does not always keep her from being hurt, He is always there to see her through.

We can learn to trust God. When we do, we discover that God can be trusted. It all begins with surrender. (Our Daily Bread)

1. The Holy Spirit convicts leaders of the perils involved with abusing their power. Jesus said, "The Counselor, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:7,8)

Application: Ask the Lord to help people respond to the Spirit’s conviction whenever they fall into the following traps that manifest some of these corrosive effects on their relationships and ministries:

A. The abusive leader insists that "My team members" follow instructions or they will be ostracized from the group. By threatening to withhold love, a sense of belonging and acceptance, the controlling leader seeks to manipulate people into submitting to his authority at all costs.

B. The abusive leader shows false humility by pretending to be meek, but actually schoomzes with people only to gain their trust for selfish reasons. By being patronizing and sweet to numerous people, the carnal leader varies in disposition according to his mood swings. He can be kind one hour and apathetic the next.

C. The abusive leader tries to eliminate any of his opposition and is general suspicious of everyone who might try to overthrow in a coup. Carnal leaders refuse to tolerate any serious disagreement because they see it as a threat to their perceived authority.

D. Abusive leaders practiced Machiavellian politics within their organizations. They are fond of trying to destroy or subjugate any dissenters since they believe in the adage - ‘divide and conquer’.

E. Abusive leaders set up all kinds of rules, policies and procedures that tend to give them greater control. They are fond of using written codes and constitutions for their own sense of authority and empowerment.

F. Abusive leaders tend to use people as tools for their own goals. They are generally not very loving since they see people as objects to be used for their own selfish purposes.

G. Abusive leaders generally stays away from associating with people who are not on his level or above. Abusive leaders do not feel the need to humble themselves by associating with people of low status.

H. Abusive leaders do not feel the need to repent of their sins since they see themselves as a chosen possessor of the controls to their ship. Abusive leaders have learned how to rationalize away their need to humble themselves before the Lord and admit that they are weak and sinful.

I. Abusive leaders resemble Pharisees in the way they love to justify themselves in the sight of men, but fail to fear, love, or obey God. Abusive leaders tend to act more like politicians than servants.

J. Abusive leaders enjoy setting up barriers to people. By erecting walls around them, abusive leaders become more fixated on maintaining their own power than accomplishing God’s will for their church.

K. Abusive leaders tend to only associate with people who can help them advance and prosper. By concentrating on their own interests, abusive leaders are loath to spend much time with the needy because they feel the hurting are only impediments to their quest for more power, glory and prestige.

L. Abusive leaders are more concerned about things on earth rather than Christ and His kingdom. By worrying more about money, materials and possessions, abusive leaders acquire many idols.

M. Abusive leaders do not feel the need to be accountable to anyone since they see themselves as ‘above the law’. By setting up a false sense of their own importance, they fail to practice what they preach.

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