Is there more spiritual abuse in the church now than there was in days past? Or could it be that the world has shrunk so that we simply see more evidence of it? I am inclined to believe the latter, but regardless, it is high time that Christians address what is clearly a too-common issue. Whatever we believe about the church’s history, we cannot and should not escape the fact that some pastors and some church leaders behave in abusive ways. Not only that, but some of the traits we may even desire in our leaders are opposed to the characteristics of leadership the Bible lays out. This is a church-wide problem, not just a leadership problem.
Michael Kruger’s Bully Pulpit is meant to address the issue by addressing Christian leaders. “I am writing as a leader in the church to other leaders in the church. Church leaders are the primary audience because they are the ones who can prevent spiritual abuse. They can stop bully pastors.” While there are other books written for the victims of spiritual abuse, this one is written for the ones who may purposely or inadvertently find themselves perpetrating it.
Of course Kruger is careful to affirm that it is only a slim minority of pastors who perpetrate abuse. “In some ways, the problem of abusive church leaders is not all that different from the problem of abusive police officers. While most officers are honorable, kind, and brave, some do use excessive force. And the reality of the former can’t be an excuse to ignore the latter. The dignity of the office would be better protected if more good police officers had the courage to stand up to the abusive ones.” What is true of police officers is equally true of pastors. This is an issue that, for the sake of the purity of the church and the safety of the sheep, must be addressed.
Bully Pulpit is a book that needed to be written and I am thankful that Michael Kruger took the opportunity to do so. I appreciate his handling of a difficult subject, his precise defining of the term, and his care in distinguishing between behaviors that are abusive and behaviors that are not. I appreciate his kind but insistent calls to pastors and church leaders that they ensure they are measuring up to the biblical qualifications for those who would take leadership positions in churches and Christian organizations. Most of all, I appreciate that he took on the topic at all, for only by facing it and admitting it can we address it.