Objective Communications for Effective Group Leadership

What are your pastor’s priorities in leading his flock?

Readership: All
Reader’s Note: This post is the sixth in a series on Gnosticism.
Length: 1,800 words
Reading Time: 6 minutes + 2 minute video clip

Introduction

Throughout history, fools have rejected sound wisdom because it is not beautiful, convenient, exciting to the ego, nor glorious. In justifying their foolishness, they label it as carnal, embarrassing, mundane, profane, reprehensible, troublesome, unattractive, or even heretical.

“Tiberius knows more than a Christian should about Salaheddin’s intentions.”

“An army of Jesus Christ, which bears His holy name, cannot be beaten!”

“There must be war!  God wills it!”

Utter foolishness!

Later in the story (The Kingdom of Heaven), their entire army is slaughtered by the Muslims in the desert. Their most valiant heroes are beheaded and eaten by vultures, and they leave Jerusalem undefended. The city later falls to the Caliphate.

The Foolishness of Clinging to Naïve Innocence

On Saturday, I received an email from a long time reader.

Hey SF,

I just spent the morning reading up about your last few posts regarding Gnosticism. I was at an auto shop all morning waiting for my car to be repaired, and I had nothing to do. Before this reading, I knew of Gnosticism, but didn’t know much else. By midday, I had my car back and was heading to work.

During this time, my pastor asked us men in our small group how our morning was going. I responded where I was and that I was reading up on Gnosticism. His response was that I should be reading God’s Word and to stop reading about Gnosticism.

I didn’t know what to say. He’s not wrong, but I don’t think I was using my time foolishly. I’ve refrained from responding too much because I don’t want to say anything that I would regret later. It just sounds like he’s assuming that I’m reading your posts at the expense of God’s Word, even though the day wasn’t even over.

His pastor is talking to him as if he were a child.

And that voice inside him telling himself not to respond out of anger, embarrassment, or fear of regret is preventing him from engaging in a discussion. (The way parents, wives, leaders, and pastors talk to men as if they were children fosters and encourages such timidity.)

Don’t be afraid of conflict. Conflict improves discernment. Make it your friend and ally.

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 (ESV)

…and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household church!

Trust that the truth will come out through adversity.

Continuing the reader’s email…

“The reason why I held my tongue was not timidity, it was because of anger. I knew I would say something that would create discord and get us nowhere. But I do agree that he was being condescending, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.”

To be generous, it seems like this pastor has a bit of inner game in being a shepherd. His approach of mocking and dismissing Gnosticism is probably intended to decrease any general interest in the subject that could have been aroused in the group by the reader’s expressed interest in it.

The Communications Game

When he told the men’s group he was learning about Gnosticism, maybe they thought he was seriously interested in becoming a Gnostic. (It is rather popular these days.) So first, make sure they understand this is not the case.

The reader indicated that he was aware of this.

I did give an initial rebuttal to him, mentioning that I was reading so that I can recognize it and to do some self-reflection (i.e. Have I said or done anything that fits the description?). This was also to give him the benefit of the doubt, since he didn’t know my intentions for reading about Gnosticism.

His response was that if we don’t prioritize the Word, then the danger is knowing a lot of useful information without a solid foundation of truth. He reinforced the first statement by saying that only God’s Word gives life and equips him to be a complete man of God. I didn’t respond because I was still fuming, at the time.

His pastor seems to be placing an emphasis on knowing how things are supposed to be, which admittedly is a good foundation, but at some point, you’ll have to start examining the counterfeits and making distinctions.

Second, you can talk to your pastor on the same childish intellectual level. The point is not to be demeaning, but to keep it objective. If you speak on the topic from the same viewpoint that he has, using some of his language, then he and others in the group are more likely to understand your stance. With tact and patience, it is possible to do this without being a disrespectful @ss and creating discord in the men’s group.

A little bit of communication can prevent much error and confusion.

Finally, don’t forget to pray.

The Argument

I’ve put together a childish little Platonic argument here below for you to express to your pastor (or anyone really) why learning about Gnosticism (or any other Red Pill stuff) is not a debaucherous waste of time.

  • Gnosticism (or Covert Contracts, Gynapotheosis, Gynocentrism, Oneitis, etc.) is a sin of idolatry and rebellion.
  • It is everywhere!
  • We are not aware of it.
  • We need to repent from it, root it out, and fight against it.
  • How can we repent and fight against it if we don’t even know what it is?

Study this and put this into your own words, and maybe he/they will “get it.”

You might want to mention some things you’ve learned about Gnosticism (or whatever) to demonstrate that it is a relevant issue to our faith.

You might even ask him why Gnosticism (etc.) is wrong, or why it is wrong for you to learn about Gnosticism, and I’m almost certain he’ll give an awkward answer that will prove he doesn’t really know what it is. He might say it’s an ancient religion or cult, or maybe even some new age philosophy, but he won’t know it’s influence on modern culture and the church.

Heck, I didn’t really know what it is until I started writing this series. Then I discovered that I’m more Gnostic than I thought! I’ve had to repent!

The point of this interaction is not to “win” the argument or humiliate the pastor in front of the group (that would be bad so try to avoid it), but to open up a discussion that would prove to be spiritually edifying and strengthen the faith of everyone in the group. A proper response from the pastor would be to engage with the group by offering some teaching on the subject. Of course, this would require a bit of work and study on his part. (Maybe that’s what he’s trying to avoid.)

Conclusions

A lot of pastors and shepherds prioritize the preservation of peace and harmony in their flock simply because it makes their job easier. Some leaders/pastors genuinely believe that maintaining a Steady Eddie approach is their most important duty! Thus, their general focus is on tamping down anything that might cause confusion, discord, or possible division. It is for this reason that many leaders/pastors don’t want to address politics or social issues, and although they must address religion, they try to keep it as remotely theoretical as possible. They refrain from digging into the tack issues of the day. Furthermore, leaders/pastors intentionally shoot down the prophets in the church, because they don’t want to deal with the spiritual turbulence and social turmoil that surrounds a burgeoning mystical approach to faith.

This kind of leader/pastor is like a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood.

But the thing is, if you want to kickstart a lively discussion in which people would open up, and start thinking and talking, and start working out the tougher issues in their faith from a personalized standpoint, then someone will have to make some controversial statements or bring up some touchy topics. I don’t see any way around this. This goes back to what I wrote above about conflict.

Be assured, God will see to it that there are a couple people in the group who are odd, quarrelsome, and disruptive. Given the opportunity, they will hijack the conversation and create confusion and discord. It will be a lot of work for the pastor to stay on top of things. It is better if there are at least two or three men working alongside the leader to shore things up.

So, the group leader/pastor needs to decide what he wants to do in leading the group. Does he want to have a group atmosphere of tentative peace and pseudo-unity where no one really opens up and grows? Or does he want to get out the sword of the spirit and start slicing and dicing the truth? (Ephesians 6:17)

You may want to have a talk with your group leader/pastor and tell him these things, and try to determine where his overall interests lie. If he is open to the idea, try to work out a game plan for inducing growth in the flock while also increasing brotherly comraderies. It would be ideal if the leadership can attain the same mind concerning their strategies. (Philippians 2:1-4) Have the mind that you are a part of the leadership, even if you don’t play an official role.

Serendipity

Here’s something else readers may find interesting…

On Thursday, I inadvertently forgot to take my USB memory stick home from the office and thus was unable to finish working on the posts I had originally planned for Friday and Saturday. (These posts will be continued tomorrow.) So to meet my posting schedule for the week, I had to come up with another angle on Gnosticism, which turned into Friday’s post, Breaking the Stronghold of Gnosticism (2021-10-29), and Saturday’s post, Knowing One’s Self (2021-10-30). As it serendipitously turned out, these posts were directly related to the reader’s email question. I find this interesting, because after getting the reader’s email and looking back, it seems like this happened because God knew what he (and probably other readers too) would be facing by diving into this topic, and He then changed my writing plans to match this need.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (KJV)

Related

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Attitude, Churchianity, Collective Strength, Communications, Confidence, Conflict Management, Determination, Discerning Lies and Deception, Discernment, Wisdom, Education, Faith Community, Fundamental Frame, Game Theory, Gnosticism, Hamsterbation, Handling Rejection, Holding Frame, Influence, Inner Game, Introspection, Leadership, Male Power, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Moral Agency, Personal Presentation, Persuasion, Power, Questions from Readers, Relationships, Self-Concept, Strategy, The Power of God. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Objective Communications for Effective Group Leadership

  1. info says:

    Spiritual War is inevitable. It is interested in you no matter your interest in it. It finds you no matter what.

    There stands the importance of Discipline, Training (God’s Word), and calling for backup (Prayer) in order to handle the fight competently and effectively.

    Spiritual Violence may be chaotic and very uncomfortable, but with those requisites it can be turned into productive ends causing refinement and perfection of character.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rock Kitaro says:

    I’ve been hearing arguments like this since I was a kid and it’s very disheartening, to hear someone tell you to not even consider different worldviews or religions for fear of it corrupting you. You’re definitely right. It is treating the individual as a child. But even there, unless they expect this person to live their entire lives confined to a community of people with the same worldviews, I think they’re doing more harm than good by what you summed up in your “The Argument” headline.

    Honestly…I see two POVs. I don’t blame Christians who won’t even consider other worldviews, if they are genuinely concerned that their faith might be tested and shaken to the point of harmful doubt. Why put yourself through that if you don’t think you can handle it. I can’t look down on them for refraining.

    At the same time, I think, because I know I can personally handle it, I think God uses Christians like us to converse with non-believers and learn different worldviews. Jesus said to go forth making disciples of all the nations. I think an effective way to connect with others is to first “understand them”. Otherwise, it’s mostly “My way is better because I said so and you’re just a heathen.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oscar says:

    “His response was that I should be reading God’s Word and to stop reading about Gnosticism.”
    […]
    “His response was that if we don’t prioritize the Word, then the danger is knowing a lot of useful information without a solid foundation of truth. He reinforced the first statement by saying that only God’s Word gives life and equips him to be a complete man of God.”

    Everything the pastor said is true (except for “stop reading about Gnosticism”), but incomplete.

    2 Corinthians 2
    11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

    That implies that we should know Satan’s devices, and that if we don’t, he’ll take advantage of us. That pretty much describes how (for example), “Liberation Theology” (a Marxist doctrine specifically invented to deceive gullible Christians) wormed it’s way into the Latin American churches, starting in the 1950s, which led to the rise of Communism in Latin America. It also describes how “Black Liberation Theology” wormed it’s way into black churches in the USA, which led to the acceptance of “Critical Race Theory” in American churches in general, which is now tearing apart churches in the USA.

    St. Paul specifically commanded Timothy to preach against “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”, and “old wives’ fables”.

    1 Timothy 4
    1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
    6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

    St. Paul also commanded Titus to “rebuke” those who spread “Jewish fables and commandments of men” (like Gnosticism).

    Titus 1
    10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.

    St. Paul’s entire letter to the Galatians is a treatise against the teachings of the Judaizers. St. Paul rebukes the Galatians as fools for being deceived by them.

    Galatians 3
    1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

    The word “pastor” literally means “shepherd”. The word for “shepherd” in Spanish and Latin is “pastor”. A big part of a shepherd’s job is to protect the flock from wolves. A pastor that fails to even warn his flock of the wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to insinuate themselves into the flock is failing at his job. In fact, Jesus Himself rebuked pastors for exactly that failure.

    Revelation 2
    14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

    Revelation 2
    Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

    By contrast, Jesus commended those who fought against false doctrine.

    Revelation 2
    6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

    I hope that wall of text helps.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Red Pill Apostle says:

    Ahh the assumption frame. Mrs. Apostle has used this with me in the past. It’s a hard one to overcome because learning about God is important and more seemingly more important than learning about Gnosticism. The pastor’s assumption is that in reading about Gnosticism the emailer was not prioritizing God’s word. The rebuttal starts with rejecting this assumption.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. redpillboomer says:

    “But the thing is, if you want to kickstart a lively discussion in which people would open up, and start thinking and talking, and start working out the tougher issues in their faith from a personalized standpoint, then someone will have to make some controversial statements or bring up some touchy topics. I don’t see any way around this.”

    This is what we do on here! In looking back on my church involvement over the years, particularly the men’s ministries I was involved in, I don’t think we ever really reached the depth we get into on here. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t tackle subjects like Gnosticism and female nature the way we do. It was more ‘Promise Keeper’ like, whether it was actually a Promise Keepers group, or some other men’s ministry with a similar bent.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. feeriker says:

    Given my experience with most pastors over the last few decades, I’m tempted to say that Jack’s correspondent’s pastor reacted the way he did because 1) he didn’t know what Gnosticism was, 2) because of point 1 (and many other gaps in his knowledge of spiritual concepts), he was afraid of appearing ignorant before one of his flock, and 3) deeper philosophical concepts like Gnosticism are simply over the heads of most modern pastors – and certainly most laymen, too.

    The disturbing part of this, for me, is that a willful ignorance of such potential threats to true faith and a clear understanding of the Word is so all-pervasive, and in large part explains why apologetics is all but dead within most churches today. Try discussing any piece of Scripture in any depth within a small group or Bible study group, and see the blank stares and looks of bored irritation immediately erupt on everyone’s faces. To depart from Scripture and discuss concepts such as Gnosticism is, for all practical purposes, a non-starter. If we can’t get beyond spiritual milk (at our most advanced; usually we never get beyond spiritual junk food), we can’t grow into the role of not only ensuring the integrity of our own faith, but defending it in front of and sharing it with others.

    Liked by 3 people

    • info says:

      It’s a shame but apologetics is what Paul, our God and the Apostles did against rival anti-Christ doctrines. Tearing down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) arguments and every presuppositions against the Knowledge of God. It is a form of War where boundaries are drawn and worldviews battle it out.

      Ironically Apologetics is Male-dominated and hence masculine endeavour. Hence why both Atheists and Christians involved in this is mostly Men.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. catacombresident says:

    The New Testament mentions this kind of partisan one-upsmanship as the mark of serious immaturity — “I’m of Paul. I’m of Apollos. I’m of Christ.” It’s rampant in the Harlot church denomination I left years ago. I felt like saying, “Gee, Pastor, didn’t you take other subjects on the way to your seminary degree? No math, no language arts, none of that science stuff? Was college and seminary just a bunch of Bible reading circles? Care to discuss a little Church History?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Red Pill Apostle says:

      If the questions you posed are not enough to make the pastor reconsider his logic, then going straight for, “Please provide a list of activities that you think are acceptable to participate in that do prioritize the study of God’s Word and a list of those that don’t. Please be prepared to defend your assertions.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: October Epilogue – Gnosticism | Σ Frame

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