are you broken in?

broken in cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
clicking on this image takes you to another land

Are you broken in by your pastor, leadership team and church? Don’t answer yet.

I was a pastor of local churches for about 30 years. I’ve also been a parent for 26 years. I’ve also been married for 33 years. So, I know what it means to try to control people. I do have to confess: I have tried to control people. Manage them. Manipulate them. Coerce them. I feel I am pretty self-aware and that I have always been interested in how to be a good pastor, a good father and a good husband. I’ve always cared about freedom… for me and for others. But I have failed along the way. Even the other day on The Lasting Supper I tried to manage a conversation that was getting heated. But my good friends there called me on it. I’m thankful for that community. I’m still learning.

I also know what it means to be managed. I have served pastors and leaders who I really cared about. I loved them and their ministries. It wasn’t until we’d already gone down the road that maybe Lisa pointed out my blind devotion to the man and their mission that had gotten out of hand. You see, even for someone who’s worst fear is being trapped and controlled and who is passionate about his own freedom can get caught up in a person or program that threatens and even destroys these things he ultimately cares about. I have been broken in by pastors and leaders to serve them and their ministries and I not only didn’t know it, but I invited it. They weren’t malicious about it. They were sincere. But I was blinded by my own love, devotion, loyalty and sense of purpose and meaning and they used that to further themselves and their work.

So I ask the question again: Are you broken in by your pastor, leadership team and church?

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  • Chester McMackin

    As this fellow gets oIder ( thankfully, GOD ), I continue to experience the same matters to which you refer, DAVID !

    Conclusion is that GOD gave us each a brain to reason with, although I have no understanding why some unfortunates have not been provided with the common sense “reasoning” element.. God knows why, and we WILL understand in due course.

    In the meantime, in our earthly travail, God is open for conversation on a one to one basis. It is quite unlikey that anyone will hear an audible response from HIM, but HE has HIS way of letting you know through silent receipt in your mind. It could well be called common sense.

    On reflection, I believe that many of us have received those silent notes and kind of smile to ourselves as we muse : “why didn’t I think of that ” ?……Because we are not GOD !!!!

    Worship modes have become complicated,dictatorial, mind bending and power structured under weak human origin.

    Please let me hear some other views.

    Just don’t beat me !!!!

  • Caryn LeMur

    Many years ago, a music instructor stated that he insisted all students change their music instructor every 2 years. The reasoning was that we had adjusted to that instructor’s expectations, patterns, and insights… and we needed new perspectives to grow. We are there, with our instructor, to grow… not to become devoted to him.

    While I lean in favor of striking a balance between ‘beloved community’ and ‘spiritual independence’, I wonder about the wisdom of taking a sabbatical from the ‘beloved community’ in order to pull away from the church’s expectations, patterns, and insights. Perhaps this could be via a sabbatical by serving the poor in the local soup kitchen for a year or so… or a sabbatical by just not attending, and reading the Bible on your own for 6 months.

    I wonder how many of us would have departed the church-structured sooner, if we had taken such a sabbatical? I also wonder if we would have freely returned with joy, after such a sabbatical?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Thirza Angenent

    I just want to thank you and others who are breaking free, that I can learn so much from you all to not fall in those ‘traps’. I’m still very young (29) and I want to do something with all your stories, learn from them, and not sit back and experience it on my own and be a prisoner first before I realize I want to be free. so. thank you. I’m free 🙂

  • Shary Hauber

    How easy is it to make some project ours to control or be controlled? Yet we can not function alone. I believe the balance is in knowing when I need to let someone else call the shots without becoming an idol worshiper. When I allow my friends to totally disagree with me and still like them.

  • Carol
  • Carol

    Opps–website is no longer available to non-subscribers:

    Here is the content:

    Spiritually Transmitted Diseases

    Posted June 29th, 2011 by Mariana Caplan
    in Integral Post In Reference to:

    Guru Question

    (adapted from Eyes
    Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path,
    Sounds True, 2009)

    It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual
    life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because
    someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga
    practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best,
    perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit. It is for
    this reason that I spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing
    books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty
    areas—power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis—as
    well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the
    path. Along with my partner, author and teacher Marc Gafni, we are developing
    a new series of books, courses and practices to bring further clarification
    to these issues.

    Several years ago, I spent a summer living and working in South Africa. Upon my arrival I was instantly confronted by the visceral reality that I was in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, where rape was common and more than half the population was HIV-positive—men and women, gays and straights alike. As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and thousands of spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives, and experiences become similarly “infected” by “conceptual contaminants”—comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles—that are as invisible, yet as insidious, as sexually transmitted disease.

    The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

    1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking, and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

    2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress, and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics
    spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

    3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering, and spiritual ambition—the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

    4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer
    periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who
    function as spiritual teachers.

    5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

    6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This
    disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and–bam! –you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

    7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that
    attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of
    “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise, and above others because I am spiritual.”

    8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality, or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional codependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

    9. The Chosen-People Complex: Unfortunately, the chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher, or community for themselves, and having found The One.

    10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived” This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

    “The essence of love is perception,” according to the teachings of Marc Gafni, “therefore the essence of self love is self perception. You can only fall in love with someone you can see clearly—including yourself. To love is to have eyes to see. It is only when you see yourself clearly that you can begin to love yourself.”

    It is in the spirit of Marc’s teaching that I believe that a critical part of learning discernment on the spiritual path is discovering the pervasive illnesses of ego and self-deception that are in all of us. That is when we need a sense of humor and the support of real spiritual friends. As we face our obstacles to spiritual growth, there are times when it is easy to fall into a sense of despair and self-diminishment and lose our confidence on the path. We must keep the faith, in ourselves and in others, in order to really make a difference in this world.

    Mariana Caplan, PhD, has
    spent over two decades researching and practicing many of the world’s great
    mystical traditions. She is a psychotherapist, a professor of yogic and
    transpersonal psychologies, and the Co-Founder of The Center for World
    Spirituality. The author of seven books on cutting-edge topics in spirituality
    and psychology, including Eyes
    Wide Open and, most recently, The
    Guru Question. Mariana lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Mariana Caplan

    Mariana Caplan, PhD, has spent over two decades
    researching and practicing many of the world’s great mystical
    traditions. She is a psychotherapist, a professor of yogic and
    transpersonal psychologies, and the Co-Founder of The Center for World
    Spirituality. The author of seven books on cutting-edge topics in
    spirituality and psychology, including Eyes Wide Open and, most recently, The Guru Question.
    Mariana lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Since the freedom of the Christian is one of the main things we preach and teach, I can honestly say that in 17 years as a member of our congregation, that I have not been told what ‘to do’ a single time. Nor have I ever heard the pastor tell someone else what they must do, or should be doing.

    We truly are free lords…subject to none…and dutiful servants to all.

  • Al Cruise

    Have you or your Church every told anyone, Jesus is the way to be saved?

  • Of course!

    That is not telling someone what to do. We don’t choose Christ, anyway. He chooses us. Jesus said as much. “Faith is a gift of God.”

  • Al Cruise

    Are you a Calvinist or neo-Calvinist Reformer? Are you part of the Mars Hill Seattle group?

  • But never-the-less I would reason to guess that what you do do is precisely what is expected of you by your church. Persuasion can be in ways other than literal suggestions. In the church I used to attend, we were made aware of evangelical materials that taught people effective ways to reach out to people (especially when they are going through personal crises). The idea was that when people are going through hardship, they are more receptive to conversion techniques. The evangelical materials suggested to befriend such people for purposes of conversion, perform the evangelical strategies, then move on to other targets. Some people were happy to fulfill that role. Others, like myself, wanted no part of it. At no point did our pastor say that we must specifically do this ,this, or that. It was just kind of implied that this was what was expected of us. We were also expected to have all our free-time activities to be church related. Having hobbies or other things not related to the church was discouraged. We were made to feel guilty if we spent any time doing other things since those things where not “serving the Lord” as defined by the church. Of course the pastor had a sailboat but when he went out on it, he always thought about God so that was OK.

  • Nope. A Lutheran.

  • Dylan Morrison

    The best form of breaking in a young zealous Christian is through praise and the withdrawl of it. It certainly worked in the old Shepherding movement of the 70s and 80s, at least until one of the Model disciplers broke ranks and left the ranch! After that both trained and untrained horses jumped the coral back into the unknown. 🙂 Dylan

  • klhayes


  • Gary

    So Christ “chooses” some for salvation and “chooses” others for damnation then?

  • We are already damned.

    Christ saves some. Those who hear the gospel.

    Why do some hear it and others don’t?

    Only God knows.

  • Gary

    No…you said “We don’t choose Christ anyway. He chooses us.” Setting aside our disagreement over whether we are “already damned”, I really want to know what you mean by “We don’t choose”, and “He chooses us”.

  • Or some hear the gospel as a metaphorical message about how to live a better life in the here and now and view any talk of after-lives, eternal damnation, and saving as only metaphor that tends to get abused when it is used to stir up fear in order to get converts and tithing members. We all hear the same message. It is what we do with it that counts.

  • Just that.
    He is in charge. He creates and gives faith, when and where He wills.

    He’s a real God. He doesn’t wait for us to do something before He acts.

  • Some hear and come to faith. And others do not.

    This is a mystery…but one we are stuck with.

  • Gary

    So if He “creates and gives faith, when and where He wills.”, and Being “a real God” who “doesn’t wait for us to do something before He acts”, how do you escape the view (which you have been carefully sidestepping) that God Himself CHOOSES some for damnation and others for mercy? How else can you explain the notion that He chooses to give some faith and deny others of it?

  • Why should I try to escape anything with respect to God choosing us?

    He will save whom He will save…and that’s basically it.

    He’s decided to do it (save some) through the hearing of His gospel and in the receiving of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

  • Gary

    In “choosing” who to save it is an inescapable conclusion that He “chooses” who not to save. Though you still will not come out and say it, by stating it is God who chooses rather than us you are declaring that God “chooses” some for damnation regardless of any choice or action of their own.

  • Let me try once more.

    We choose ‘self’. Which means we choose death. God chooses whom to save out of all of us who have chosen death, already.

    So then, is God going to send people to hell? Yes He will.

    Does this please Him? No it doesn’t. “God desires that all would come to faith in Himself.”

    Why do some hear…and really hear….and others hear and yet do not really hear the gospel? That remains a mystery.

    Some things are above our ability to completely understand them. Why God does what He does is one of those things.

  • Gary

    Steve I appreciate you staying in the discussion and trying to reason with me. So thanks for that.

    I still am trying “one more time” to get you to acknowledge your statement of faith being a “gift” from God and that He chooses who will receive this gift and not us. I recognize that this notion of God choosing to deny some this “gift” of faith portrays God in a very unfavorable light as it means (inescapably) that He has “chosen” some to be denied the gift of faith thereby condemning them to hell by HIS choices rather than theirs.

    Some things are indeed beyond our ability to comprehend. But this is not a valid defense for a doctrine that portrays God to be the worst monster our minds could ever conceive. That is exactly what a God, who would simply choose to deny some the ability to find saving knowledge and then roast them for all eternity for a choice that they did not make but rather he did, would be. I am trying to help you understand that your logic is not only circular and self defeating, but completely contrary to a God of Love. Injustice is injustice…whether in actions committed by people or by God.

  • Gary

    And BTW Steve, the bible itself teaches us that we are to love ourselves (Jesus Himself placing self love on a par with our love for others). This notion of “choosing self” means we “chose death” is just philosophical nonsense attempting to prop up a doctrine that does not stand on its own. It is nothing more than made up hyperbole designed to somehow excuse a horribly abusive belief system.

  • The Bible teaches that we are to love others as we love ourselves. Fat chance of that happening. We have no problem loving ourselves and putting our needs ahead of others. That’s our problem when it comes to how God wants us to live,

  • Gary,

    God is a real God and real God’s do what they will do.

    If you have a problem with God choosing some and not others, you’ll have to take it up with Him when the time comes.

    Off to do my Sunday stuff.


  • Gary

    Jesus drew a parallel. How is tearing down one side of it and promoting the other being truthful with His teaching?

  • Gary

    Yes I do have a problem with a “god” who would behave in a way that makes him a cold hearted bastard getting his kicks out of eternal conscious torment for those he chose to deny the ability the have faith. You see Steve…THAT god is most certainly NOT REAL in spite of your continued declarations to the contrary. Only very sadistically minded individuals could even dream up such a monster. I am shocked at how many have been so deceived to believe in such a monster. I was for many years one of the deceived. Finally, the Spirit of Truth has lead me out of such darkness and into a much more healthy view of reality.

    Playing the “god is god” defense card is a complete cop out because you know you cannot defend the doctrine you are trying to promote. Neither can the churches who maintain this horrible view of God and that is why so many are simply leaving this false and abusive teaching behind.

    You go do your “Sunday stuff”. I hope when you do you are honest enough to look people in the eye and tell them that your god has chosen some of them for hell no matter what they do or think. (Because he has not “chosen” them to receive the gift of faith.) That this god loves them so much he is going to fry them for eternity because he did not “choose” them for faith.

    With that as our standard for love…it is no wonder there is so much lack of genuine love in the world.

  • Jeannie Boen

    Ewww…Shepherding movement. That brings back some memories and shudders. Unfortunately it didn’t stop in the 80s. There’s still groups who equate obeying godly leadership as obeying God.