Those who use power and control as weapons use them well. Think “movies:” Matt Damon, Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan, or Bruce Lee. That’s what you’re up against, only this time it isn’t just one scene and it’s not a movie. It’s real life. Over. And over. And over.
Women who live with men like this just can’t win. Sometimes it feels like the tide is turning; everything’s normal. Then the rug gets pulled out from under her. Unexpectedly. Hard. She’s on the floor, scrambling to catch her breath, but she’s already down.
If you’re a church leader and this isn’t your personal bent, you have little to no idea what you’re up against. You think you know. You want to think you know. But you don’t. Because this isn’t a ring fight with rules, a bell, corner stool, and a referee. This is a street fight. There are no rules. There’s no break, time to regroup, get a plan, or size up your opponent.
After hearing his wife, you may confront him, expecting in-your-face opposition. What you get is false humility; a walk to the altar; promises to tow the line. You’ve been played. While you were giving him the benefit of the doubt, quick to listen, slow to speak, loving, and playing nice, he manipulated you into giving him more rope and leeway. You told his wife she needs to change, give it another go, hang on a little longer, do what it takes to preserve the marriage. What you don’t know is that He hasn’t changed; He simply flipped the coin and used the other side to get the same outcome: power and control. Now that his hiney is on the line with people he wants to impress, people who might actually make his life difficult–people who have the ability to limit his power, limit his desires, and control–he has to look good and convince everyone on the outside he’s doing his part; she’s not doing hers.
Tears do not equal repentance. “I’m sorry” is not repentance. “I won’t do it again,” is not repentance. “How can I fix this?” is not repentance. “Help me, please,” is not repentance.
Sound familiar? If you’re still trying to figure out what just happened, please, please check out Chris Mole’s resources at http://www.chrismoles.org/ . Chris helps pastors and church leaders see behind the masquerade of power and control to repentance and true heart change, all while protecting and defending women and children–especially those in our churches.
Repentance equals change. And, as Kevin Carson says, “Change does not take place until change takes place.” Repentance begins with identifying sin. There is no way to begin the put off, put on process of sanctification if you refuse or fail to identify the specifics of what to take off. Where is the sin? No minimizing, justifying, excusing, blame-shifting. True repentance is broken over one’s own sin against God and others, not sorrowful over consequences.
Determine how you, as church leaders, or his wife, know he has put off a behavior. What will stop? How often? To what degree? How will you measure effort and sincerity? Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 7:11:
“..see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Is he making efforts to keep up appearances, to get what he wants (his life and wife)?This is not true repentance. True repentance means submitting (yes, you read that right–“submitting”) himself to the power and control of others, even when he doesn’t agree. He will tow the line longer than required. He will be harder on himself than you are–and you should expect him to be.
His wife is the one who knows. Listen. to. her. Let her be raw and real. Allow her to share his infractions, outbursts, and demands. This is one of the few true barometers of change in an abusive relationship.
And that’s just a start.
Don’t be the fool. Identify him, love him well, draw him to the Savior. “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
Love your women and children. Protect and defend them. Go to the mat. Be filled with the Spirit, doing the Lord’s work, with His Word, as His Body:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God (Isaiah 61:1-2)