One of the big struggles for any leader is the power of egocentricity. There have been many people propelled to leadership or status because of the power of ego gratification. Because of this, there are people who have done damage as leaders because of the fear driven by the ego. They feel the need to protect their image, or their personal “kingdom” from another person, another group, another idea. One can also see the great pain that leaders cause they have not learned to love the whole world and want to protect their tribe. They have learned egocentric love, they know ethnocentric love, but they do not know how to love their world. This is also a product of a narcissistic gratification. They are bound to think than no one can hurt “my people”, “my colony”, “my church”, “my denomination”. Worst of all, the ego-driven Christian will stop at nothing to defend God. Because there is nothing greater than God, at what point does someone stop to protect the thing with the greatest worth?
Christian leaders have caused much pain and death in the world because of their tribal thinking. They have crucified others because they challenge their kingdoms. I believe this is why people who question the empire of Church, to some extent, are bound to receive the treatment of Christ. While they may never be physically crucified (thank God we have laws in place to prevent that), they receive the social crucifixion, exile from the community. In Jesus’ day, crucifixion meant you were disavowed from your people. This isolation is torment because Jewish people gain their identity from their community. So, when Christ challenged the ways of the Jewish people, he was facing the ultimate disassociation from his people.
Human beings were not meant to have so much power. Without people questioning them, the leaders who are on a narcissistic fix will continue to crush those who are underneath them. It takes a community to do a community’s work. People who have been spiritually abused are bound to feel the message of betrayal, an inner belief of “what’s wrong with me?” The truth is that there is nothing wrong with people who have questions. When power is handled like it is supposed to be, in distribution, there should be an environment that allows that, but we’ve fallen under broken systems. Christians who have been abused by the system need to get back up.
The most important theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth, once said, “Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life.“ We have a deep internal conscience that tells us when things are wrong, when things are not just. We need to be a people that allow the consciences of people to have a voice and not feel like there is something wrong with that… because there isn’t. People who have a conscience can help us see things that we cannot see. If we have the types of leaders that we need, they have the type of personal security to hear the voices around them. They will already be the types of people who will not instill fear and shame, but will empower others for change. We can’t be a group of people who don’t allow for a discerning voice to help us move to where we need to go. There is nothing wrong with these voices.