I can only ever speak based on my own personal experience concerning this matter…
Everyone tends to idolize someone. This happens even in the church where the only one meant to be idolized is God.
Idolizing human beings is destructive. They will always let you down. Always! I’ve learnt some hard lessons concerning this. The most painful lessons were pertaining to those whom I idolized within the church.
Unfortunately, many believe that when someone is given a position of authority or a position worthy of great praise, that they’ve earned it. Often times, this is not necessarily the case. There are some who work hard and get nowhere. While there are others who happen to post a video on YouTube that goes viral and voila, they’re millionaires.
God blesses many with different circumstances. Some circumstances are blatantly obvious as blessings. Others look like curses to the outside world, but from another perspective, they are blessings.
Hillsong United was my all time favorite worship band. They had Brooke Fraser, a young woman I tried hard to emulate. My greatest desire was to be a part of such a great calling as Hillsong. To go around the world getting Christians excited about Jesus. I wanted to follow in Hillsong United’s foot steps.
My husband and I moved to Australia to attend Hillsong College just a couple years after we got married. We were excited about the journey ahead. Excited to be in close quarters with those we already admired from the other side of the world.
It didn’t take long for us to see the reality of how destructive it is to expect virtuous behaviors from those that admit they need Jesus Christ as their savior. We had set ourselves up for disappointment.
It’s a wonder we expect so much more from those in leadership of God’s church, yet many testify to having been hurt by these leaders of the church. I hate to admit that I saw Hillsong Church as heaven itself. Unfortunately, while attending Hillsong College, it was painfully obvious that customs of the celebrity world had found it’s way through their doors.
I had a pastor humiliate me in a public setting. I had Brooke Fraser act in a rude manner towards me. I was pushed to the breaking point as a volunteer, working more hours than my body could handle. I was taken advantage of and I was scolded in moments I privately expressed the hurt I felt from Hillsong leadership.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard of leaders within the church being excused of wrong behavior too many times. Because members of the church believe that these leaders are worthy of their position and are, therefore, not capable of human error. Victims even end up blaming themselves for the pain they’ve received.
Pastors, leaders and members of the church are capable of causing great hurt! They are capable of damaging people. And when they do (and because of human nature they will), it’s ok to admit that they were wrong. It’s ok to admit that they hurt you! What’s not ok is to say that Jesus Christ himself hurt you.
After experiencing so much hurt from a church that I believed was perfect in God’s eyes, I cried out to God in desperation. I wanted to understand what I had done wrong to deserve such behavior. And what he told me was “Matthew 21:33-40”
The Parable of the Tenants
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
God said to me that though these pastors and leaders were chosen by him to work in his house, that does not mean that they are not capable of hurting others. This is the reality of the world we live in; it’s not the world God had in mind when he created us.
Hillsong Church hurt me. Church of the Rock hurt me. Emmanuel Pentecostal hurt me. Youth With A Mission hurt me. Village Church hurt me… These are all of the Christian organizations I’ve been a part of in my lifetime. Still, I remain faithful to Jesus Christ and I still attend these churches when given the opportunity.
God called me to be a part of the church. And the church is a messy group of people. But if everyone that is hurt by the church run away, how can there be any resolve?
You, the one that has been hurt by the church, the church needs you. They need you to be honest and open about your hurt. Not to hide it and run away. The Bible often talks about conflict resolution within Christian groups. This can only happen if the one that is hurt speaks up. Change can only come after someone admits a wrong has been committed.
Jesus is not the one that hurt me. People hurt me.