What Prompted This Series?
I wrote a post on my Facebook timeline that seemed to cause quite a stir. The post was "liked" and "shared" several times, mostly by people I didn't know or people that I don't usually hear from at all. It seemed to resonate with so many hearts and minds. I woke up that morning with an old story on my mind and decided that it may be important for someone to hear that day so I posted the following:
"I remember hearing of a conversation once between a church staffer and a church leader.
The staffer was admitting her struggle with the fact that she was only being paid for 20 hours when the reality was she was working 40 and it wasn't because she was volunteering to work the extra 20. It was partly because of the demand on her role and partly because the church demanded as part of their requirement to "volunteer" 10 hours as part of their required staff job description. She stated she would no longer work hours she was not being compensated for, she could not afford to financially nor could her family make that sacrifice. She was losing her home and could not continue to make a living at that rate.
The leader's response was that everyone knew that churches don't pay what regular non-church jobs did. And that she knew that going in and that's just the way it was and it was not going to change there or anywhere else in church culture. She was told she needed to learn about loyalty, sacrifice and stewardship and they should find additional jobs outside the church and learn to manage their money better.
First, let me say, if those standards exist then they only exist because we have allowed them to. If churches don't pay equivalent to what the world standard is (it should be better than what's out there) it's because we've chosen to allow it to continue by not saying ‘no’ as leaders and participants.
Second, it's illegal to force someone to work for free as a "requirement" in the USA. It's not volunteer work or apprenticeship, or internship. It's called slavery or in more modern trendy terms, trafficking.
Third, using sacrifice, stewardship and loyalty language to get people to do things is called manipulation. If you throw Jesus and the church and money in there, it's called abuse or more specifically, spiritual abuse.
Fourth, it's what the kingdom of God DOESN'T look like.
Why am I talking about this today?
I don't know. I think it's important for someone to hear today. Or perhaps it’s because I am disturbed by too many instances of slavery when we should be engaged in sanctuary.
The truth is many of you are in this situation today and I'm praying for you.
There is wisdom for you.
There is freedom for you.
There is an awakening for you.
Change the atmosphere."
I viewed many of the comments on the shared version of re-posts that I could view (some I could not due to individual's timeline privacy settings) but many were giving advice like "get out of there and find a new job" or she should do this or that, or just plain wondered what happened to the woman.
There had even been more to the story than I originally shared in that post. The church also expected her to be at every event, and not paid for those hours. Another thing was that they expected the spouse to be with her (spouse not a paid staff person) because it "looked better for her role that it be a man and woman led ministry being that it was appropriate considering she would be ministering to males and females." The demands were endless and the ending more of the same type of abuse.
The work environment became increasingly difficult for the woman after the incident with the church leader. She ended up not looking for another position to supplement her income because she was later told the church board made a decision to "go a different direction" with the ministry. The woman was let go and replaced immediately by someone young and single. She was also blacklisted in the region. The woman and her family moved far away from there.
There is a lot happening in that story. Some of the readers came away thinking of the business/human-relations aspect of the post, which is important. I am a business owner and understand the ramifications of bad HR and that is part of why I brought it up. My main point though, primarily was the abusive nature of the interaction and how unacceptable that kind of behavior is and the abusive nature of it. That standard is far below God's best and is unworthy of the people we are called to be and be associated with.
Due to the overwhelming response of that post and the solid chord it struck with those who came across it, I decided to write a 4 part series (maybe more if necessary) about healing from abusive atmospheres, people and systems. It is not in my heart to write in order to accuse those perpetrating or blame those participating in abuse but to bring healing, reformation and restoration to those who are suffering and struggling in these areas. I am coming from a place of seeking solutions so that we can move forward into all God has for us as a community of believers in Christ. I believe this post will transcend the experiences of church life but can also be applied to any realm in which people live and exist. Awareness and awakening can transform our whole world.
I believe it is important that we recognize the issues, stop the abuse and heal the broken-hearted.
Over the years I have served as an apostle, a prophet, teacher, healing minister and as a senior pastor and have probably heard it all. I too have been on the receiving end of abuse, atmospheres, systems, and people myself. I've been on both ends of this stick. That is why I care. That is why I am talking about this, and it wasn't an easy to choose to talk about it.
Please keep in mind the stories I share in the posts to come are true stories, with real people. If names or small details are used they will have been changed in order to protect identities, genders, locations, time frames and personal privacy. Confidentiality has been a priority to me and is to this day. I will not cross that line, so please don't ask me to reveal the who’s and where of those stories, I will not. These stories have come from my own experiences or experiences of those who have reported them to me.
Keep your eyes open for Healing from Abusive Atmospheres, Systems and People Part 2: The Abusive Atmosphere
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