Updated: Dec 10, 2021
We live in a hypersensitive culture. Morality seems to be challenged every second of the day, especially as we tread through “victimhood” culture. This has definitely spilled over into religious spheres. Technological advancement has opened avenues for more believers to access opinions, theologies and revelations. It has been beneficial and chaotic at the same time. It seems that individuals desire in PhD in "church hurt" without any research interests in anything else.
God is restoring the honor of leadership in the body of Christ, which will empower leaders to lead without fear of blacklash (from the enemy and men).
As it relates to receive correction from a spiritual authority, our culture of hypersensitivity has empowered dishonor and apostasy through social networking. Believers (and non-believers) are finding validation of their error from other people who are in error –with a large following. It’s the fruit of the blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14). We, as the body of Christ, are in desperate need of correction. I truly believe that God is restoring the honor of leadership in the body of Christ, which will empower leaders to lead without fear of black lash (from the enemy and men).
There are leaders who are fueled by accusation and slander, who are willingly led by the enemy, to launch attacks on others - there is no disputing that. On the other hand, there are individuals who will love God and love you, but they may be misguided by the opinions of others, the trauma of life, the reality of failure, insecurity and so many other issues.... for a season. When people are led by their flesh, they weaponize their assumptions through rationalization. No one is exempt from being wrong about a situation or a person. Leadership under the direction of the Holy Spirit is transparent, humble, and willing to have the hard conversations. Contrary to popular belief, there are people who embody exemplary leadership, but even they will fail you. If you're looking for a perfect leader, you will always be unsuccessful. Making a career out of finding the flaws of every leader you're submitted to won't be fulfilling - in this life or in eternity.
..there are individuals who will love God and love you, but they may be misguided by the opinions of others, the trauma of life, the reality of failure, insecurity and so many other issues.... for a season.
Submitting to earthly leadership is difficult because the leaders are human. Not one leader is exempt from being wrong about someone. Spiritual gifts, signs, wonders, book sales, interviews, church attendance, websites or programs do not exempt a leader from leaning to their own understanding, especially in the midst of conflict (Proverbs 3:5-6). In cases of correction vs attack between two ministry leaders, many have allowed a person’s “rank in the spirit” to wiggle their way out of a justified correction. This is ungodly and evidence of the kingdom of pride. Pride is a spirit that is attracted to anointed persons. It has prohibited the growth and expansion of countless leaders. Pride keeps us from seeing our own sin. And guess what brings our sin to our awareness? Correction.
Making a career out of finding the flaws of every leader you're submitted to won't be fulfilling - in this life or in eternity.
Being able to decipher whether you’re wrong or whether it’s an attack on your character, it takes more than discernment and reason, it requires the work of the Holy Spirit. I would like to expound briefly on how believers should receive correction and also how you should respond when you are falsely accused.
1. It’s normal to be offended by correction. Your flesh wants to live and killing it hurts. Put your ego aside. Most of time, your feelings are completely irrational. Don’t fall in love with appeasing your feelings, fall in love with the truth.
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
2. Be willing to accept correction even when the person doing the correcting is being insensitive or harsh. Just because the correction isn’t given professionally doesn’t mean that it’s not valid. Don’t miss your opportunity for growth by finding fault in the semantics. You’ll need the same grace you refuse to give someone else.
3. Don’t become belligerent, even if the leader is wrong. You must learn to communicate your feelings and arrive at a resolve. Sometimes, the resolve may be you knowing that you are not guilty when everyone else is against you. Remember, if God is for you, who can stand against you?
4. Apologize for any error or misunderstanding. If you feel that you can’t give an authentic apology for your error in the moment, then don’t. Lying will never bring you to a true resolve. If you need a moment to gather your thoughts, be honest. However, you must be prepared for the consequences of your actions. Others may choose to disconnect from you for your immediate refusal to apologize. Additionally, do not use passive aggressive means to demean the leader. The use of prideful deflections is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Even in your anger, you should not forget how to honor.
5. Listen for God’s direction. The Lord will lead you.
How To Handle Slander That Masquerades As Correction
1. Accept that the individual may be committed to misunderstanding you. You can’t reason with a fool, but you can operate in the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that you won’t become one. This may result in a covenant relationship disconnect. My advice is to always be prepared for the wheat and the tare to be separated.
Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt.
2. It’s biblical to defend your ministry (1 Thess. 2; 2 Cor. 10–13). We have a tendency to think that we have to fix everything, particularly in “winning back” those who’ve heard the slander, and sharing our side of the story. But often it’s fear of people, not fear of God, that produces this instinct. Spurgeon has a great metaphor for lies and accusation:
“A great lie, if unnoticed, is like a big fish out of water—it dashes and plunges and beats itself to death in a short time.”
3. Ask questions… gently. This enables you to get all the facts before arriving at any conclusions, and it’s less confrontational. But don’t shy away from using the word “sin” and “slander” if that’s what it is. If you’re going to be bold enough to comfort, make sure you’re addressing it with the Lord backing your words up.
4. If you feel safe, express vulnerability with the leader. If you feel like it’s a volatile situation, I do not recommend opening yourself up because everything you say will be used against you. This is applicable in situations when the leader is operating as a familiar spirit, Ahab, Jezebel, Absalom, Saul, etc.
5. Some leaders slander without realizing it. This all depends on who they have allowed in their ear gates, personality issues, etc. You may find that some leaders may be genuinely surprised that they’ve hurt you. Starting off with sharing your heart rather than an accusation can de-escalate the situation and produce a peaceable result.
6. If the correction involves the testimonial of others, all parties need to be present and named. If there are layers of deception present, it may turn into a rabbit hole. Remember, the Lord owns your reputation. Do not allow the enemy to distract you through mindless conversation that will yield no resolve.
7. Become okay with no responding at all. This is why listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit is extremely important. Every accusation does not deserve your response. Learning when to roar and when to whisper will change your life.
The list above is not comprehensive and many conflicts must be resolved on a case by case basis. Ultimately, no one is above correction. Anointing does not make one immune to communal accountability. Furthermore, attacks against your character are inevitable. The way you respond will speak to your level of maturity.
We are the body of Christ. We are dysfunctional in some many ways, but we are glorious. Let's all make a conscious effort to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18).
I highly recommend these books for your journey of emotional intelligence:
Why Won't You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts – Harriet Lerner
Healthy Boundaries: How to Set Strong Boundaries, Say No Without Guilt, and Maintain Good Relationships With Your Parents, Family, and Friends – Chase Hill