Garrett Higbee’s Letter of Resignation and His Statement on His Years at Harvest Bible Chapel

https://pics-about-space.com/jupiter-red-spot-nasa?p=2Jupiter’s Red Spot 

“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.” ― Shannon Alder

__________

How many of you at Harvest Bible Chapel continue to call these pastors *nice* while knowing about their ability to listen to and laugh along with the despicable garbage that spewed from the mouth of James MacDonald? How does anyone think that a *nice* person could listen to a pastor making fun of physical defects of elders, members and fellow pastors? What do you think Jesus might say about this?

I made this comment over at The Elephant’s Debt under a post on Rick Donald’s resignation. I couldn’t understand why people thought men, who played along with MacDonald, were nice. You see, in my world, nice people would not stand for such things being said in their presence.

Here is one response. Now, I’m sure Dale Harris is nice but I disagree with his explanation.

Well, Jesus did have something to say about people who are nice to other people who are nice to them. He said that even villains do that. In other words, it’s not considered a virtue. Matthew 5: 46-47 NIV.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

It’s time we stop offering excuses for bad behavior and start calling one another to repentance. Nope- these leaders, who are resigning in droves, weren’t really nice. They were merely pleasant to people who were sweet to them.

I would love to see more discussion on the difference between being nice to those who are nice to you and being truly loving and kind. I think there is a big difference.

Garrett Higbee’s Letter of Resignation to James MacDonald

Today, TWW presents another Harvest Bible Chapel pastor who left. Garrett Higbee ran HBC’s biblical counseling group called Soul Care. I’ve been reading some comments that confidentiality may have been breached within this group but I don’t know how true that is. Here is his resignation letter which will be followed by his personal statement of his time at HBC.

Garrett Higbee’s Statement of his experience at HBC from 2009-2017

HigbeeHBC


Comments

Garrett Higbee’s Letter of Resignation and His Statement on His Years at Harvest Bible Chapel — 137 Comments

  1. “I would love to see more discussion on the difference between being nice to those who are nice to you and being truly loving and kind. I think there is a big difference.”

    Yes, absolutely. When abusive things were coming to light in my ex-church, there were a few times that someone from the outside was asked to offer analysis. These men–pastors–would talk with the elders and pronounce them “nice guys!” and that was supposed to be the end of the story. They were seemingly unaware that men can smile, play golf, and eat food cheerily without having been wise, fair, and respectful in all of their past actions.

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  2. Sigh…. what a contrast between the “public letter” and the linked letter…..
    the “linked letter” just further verifies what a train wreck these mega’s are…. and how all the leadership drinks the cool aid
    Now, excuse me as I get sick….

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  3. I have heard the same explanation about my anti-buddy, Bob Malm. People have said, “Well, he’s so nice,” or :I told him about the death of my mother and he really understood me,” or the review of Grace Church that says, “He genuinely cares….”

    This sort of superficial charm and empathy is the result of rote practice and mimicry in people with narcissistic personality disorder. But really caring about others does not involve hurting them, or doing things that harm their church, their faith, or their reputation. That includes lying about them.

    When ostensibly caring people say and do these things, and fail to show real remorse, they may well be sociopaths or worse.

    What’s most sad of all is when people are deceived by glib, superficial charm, and assume it’s okay to lie about people, bully them, and engage in other bad conduct. Such behavior greatly damages Christianity and results in lasting harm to the churches and people that experience it.

    In short, friendly is not faithful, and it’s important not to conflate the two. Someone can be utterly charming and have zero faith, even as clergy. And yes, that is my take both on Bob Malm and Garrett Higbee. And I believe both have caused lasting harm to completely innocent people who trusted them.

    PS Often, the inner circle of sycophants will refuse to even look at evidence that contradicts their views. In Bob’s case, there are sworn affidavits he filed in court with facially obvious lies (aka perjury), yet no one in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia or the local vestry has, to my knowledge, made any meaningful inquiry. I’d be prepared to be that there are dozens at HBC who take the same approach and won’t even look at material that rocks the boat.

    Churches will do everything in their power to protect their own reputation, even when, by doing so, they are causing the collapse of the very church they claim to love.

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  4. “I would love to see more discussion on the difference between being nice to those who are nice to you and being truly loving and kind. I think there is a big difference.”–dee
    +++++++++++++++++

    i agree. except…

    christian culture doesn’t know there’s a difference.

    i’ve long reached my limit on the words “loving” and “love” as spoken by christians (with very few exceptions). they mean happy smiley niceness one puts on like a hat, often to hide what’s underneath.

    change “loving” to something like ‘doing the right thing even when it costs you’, and let the discussion proceed.

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  5. I hate nice and consider it less than worthless, it’s often harmful because it gets in the way of being real. I try hard not to be nice. I’d rather be kind. My wife is never nice to me. She tells,me tough things when I need to hear them. My favorite colleague at the university here is not nice at all. He can be,very hard on students. Teaches the final course in the accounting sequence. Gives the toughest exams in the department. He’s gruff with them and will jerk them,around a bit, such as assigning a major group project that they work,on for weeks, then a few days before it’s due, sending them an email memo from the “client” suddenly changing some major parameters and then they have to scramble to make,the alterations last minute. He seems like a jerk until they graduate and take their first jobs and realize he was preparing them for life in a tough profession. And he’ll put in long hours well beyond normal office hours helping them meet his high standards. He really cares about these kids and their success, cares enough to not be nice. Am trying to be more like him every semester.

    Nice guys and gals are dime a dozen. Kind people are rare.

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  6. From Dale Harris’ response to Dee:

    He was never condescending or rude like other Harvest leaders.

    OK. But the question remains: Why would anyone stay in a “church” whose leaders, or at least a significant part of them, behave like that?

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  7. Several aspects of Higbee’s letter about his experiences at HBC are troubling.

    First are the troubling signs of a possible personality disorder or major mental illness on MacDonald’s part, including potential borderline personality disorder. Higbee talks about his role in ensuring health, yet an appropriate response early on seemingly would have been to refer MacDonald out for a professional mental health assessment, treatment and follow-up. Particularly telling is his statement that Macdonald was perfectly capable of controlling his behavior when he chose to do so, combined with references to charisma and manipulation.

    Second is, as Dee noted, the references to demeanor and behavior. Yes, these are important, but they are indices of one’s soul. So while Higbee is talking about “Soul Care,” I’m having mental images of souls in ICU, or at least repeated visits to the ER. What’s going on inside these people seems just downright ugly.

    Third are the references to Higbee’s 2012 letter. He remembers several recommendations clearly, and was immersed in these issues on a day-to-day basis, but he can’t remember his other recommendations, just that no one disagreed? Hmmmm.

    Fourth is Higbee’s role as “Chief Health Officer.” Yes, most healthy churches make a conscious decision to be healthy, but when you need a CHO, that begs the issue of just how healthy the church is in the first place. Clearly, not very.

    Lastly is the discongruence between Higbee’s resignation letter and his letter about his experiences. Tellingly, the resignation letter focuses on “deliverables” and “intensives,” an approach that is very common among organizations in meltdown. In these cases, it’s a case of “keep your head down, and keep on cranking it out.” And while it’s always best to leave on a positive note, the resignation letter itself seems more than a little manipulative, with its references to “dreaming” and “covet[ing] your support and prayers.”

    In short, Higbee seems immersed in this mess and, even on his way out the door, both wittingly and unwittingly part of the larger problem.

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  8. I made this comment over at The Elephant’s Debt under a post on Rick Donald’s resignation. I couldn’t understand why people thought men, who played along with MacDonald, were nice. You see, in my world, nice people would not stand for such things being said in their presence.

    Well maybe Rick Donald is nice and as they say too nice. Rick Donald was too nice to stand up to James MacDonald’s bullying.

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  9. elastigirl: change “loving” to something like ‘doing the right thing even when it costs you’, and let the discussion proceed.

    I’ve been told that the famous text in 1 Cor 13 should be read “love suffers long and is kind”, as in “remains kind in spite of suffering long”; “patient kindness” as opposed to two distinct things.

    It’s a more important trait in leaders than verbal eloquence, which seems to be prized above all else at present. It is disturbing that those with less power are held to this standard of conduct toward the more powerful (under the threat of dismissal?) more than vice versa.

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  10. More cya from another failed church leader who doesn’t seem to know his Bible or Christ very well. Being nice is a wax nose. It deflects from the real issue, which is having the spiritual gift of love required to be a true shepherd. I see none of that at HBC. Rather, I see a quasi-Christian organization in meltdown and the manglement doing what manglement does so well; padding themselves for impact when the whole thing falls apart.
    Does anyone see any fruit of the spirit in any of these men? I don’t.

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  11. Quick quiz about the last item on the bullet list:

    “Stay in touch with Brian and HBF to help with BSC replication and crisis management issues.”

    In his new location, does he feel called to replicate crisis, replicate BSC management, replicate issues, replicate Brian, replicate HBF as BSC, or something else?

    Whatever it is, it sounds like a bad idea.

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  12. After 20 years without a sabbatical…poor him. My husband and I have been grinding it out far longer. We didn’t know to expect a sabbatical at 20 years or earlier. Didn’t know to expect one at all, in fact.

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  13. Friend:
    Quick quiz about the last item on the bullet list:“Stay in touch with Brian and HBF to help with BSC replication and crisis management issues.”
    In his new location, does he feel called to replicate crisis, replicate BSC management, replicate issues, replicate Brian, replicate HBF as BSC, or something else?
    Whatever it is, it sounds like a bad idea.

    Best summation yet!

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  14. “You know how fond I am of you and your family” (resignation letter)
    “Tammy and I contemplated leaving every year” (statement of experience)

    “We want very much to honor the love and loyalty that has been built” (resignation letter)
    “The culture was and is one of pride and fear … I was marginalized” (statement of experience)

    “Was it the fact that we were in a cult of personality that when push came to shove meant we complied?”

    Yes, Dr. Higbee, you were complicit in James MacDonald’s unholy leadership for years. As someone responsible for “soul care”, you should have realized that thousands of HBC souls were ensnared by a cult of personality and that those same souls would be greatly impacted when MacDonald’s control, manipulation and intimidation of pastors/elders and fleecing of the flock were exposed.

    Thank you for finally coming forth and being honest with the Body of Christ, both at HBC and greater Christendom looking in. May the fruit of repentance flow in your life from this day forward.

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  15. Law Prof: Nice guys and gals are dime a dozen. Kind people are rare.

    It’s been my observation from several decades on planet earth that most “nice” folks are only nice for a season, seldom demonstrating a perpetual lifestyle of niceness. Genuinely “kind” folks, on the other hand, don’t have an agenda, their character overflows with kindness, it’s in their DNA. You can always trust a kind person, but beware when folks come across with syruppy niceties.

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  16. Wow! I am so grateful for these discussions on the topic of appearing nice and pious versus being authentic with Jesus and others! I have felt the same thing for a long time, and now I realize many comments here represent the same insight into spiritual reality. Some people here may have a prophetic teaching gift in terms of seeing beyond the superficial. So comforting to know.

    Oswald Chambers always taught on this line. For example, our Lord made Himself of no reputation, but he defended his Father’s honor.

    We see human leaders try so hard to put on a good image and cover ugly stuff, in the meantime the name of Christ suffers dishonor. Do we bear the image of our Redeemer or that of the Deceiver?

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  17. Eric Bonetti: This sort of superficial charm and empathy is the result of rote practice and mimicry in people with narcissistic personality disorder. But really caring about others does not involve hurting them, or doing things that harm their church, their faith, or their reputation. That includes lying about them.

    Eric, your entire comment is very on point, and very important for people to understand. I have lived with a very ‘nice’ narcissist most of my adult life. Such people are seen by others as ‘the nicest, friendliest, most positive, would give you the shirt off their back’ person by outsiders. They deliberately cultivate this ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ persona (male or female), and only rarely, unintentionally, let this image slip. They are so good they even begin to fool themselves.

    They do ‘serve’ others quite well, but they do it for self-serving reasons. They deliberately cultivate the image of a servant, which tends to give them leverage to manipulate and gently bully people into doing what they want.

    Few can put a name to the cognitive dissonance they feel as they are gently bullied and manipulated by a ‘Mr. Nice Guy’. Often the blame is conveniently shifted to them, or others, as ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ retains his crown of congeniality. This occurs in family relationships as well as the broader community, such as work or church. It took me over three decades to begin to understand this.

    All of the hazy emotional discomfort finally had a reason. I began to better understand my uneasy feelings about my father-in-law, who was a master of nice guy narcissism. Yet in his last days, he was found to be responding with physical expressions of anger when alone with his bemused wife, who had a severe case of dementia. Nicest guy in the world, most outsiders would say.

    I have learned to not trust the nicest guy in the room. Hear me well, what I refer to is the person who can never be real, who carefully guards every word to preserve a phony image of near perfection, rather than the person who loves from a heart filled with the Spirit of God.

    Real, spirit-filled people, sometimes get annoyed, even angry. Real people sometimes grow weary of being taken for granted, abused or the one to always be called in an emergency. Even when their love for Christ helps them to deal with these feelings and go on to serve others, they experience the natural reactions to demanding relationships and are willing to confess them to those they are closest to.

    I am not suggesting the extreme of a James MacDonald, who was apparently verbally abusive in person while projecting a certain stage image to strangers. But real people will confess to real struggles.

    In contrast to the narcissists in my life, I have a sister who, after knowing her for over fifty years, I can say is truly the most Christlike person I have ever known. She looks for the good in everyone, and works through her own selfishness so that she can put others’ needs before her own. It is not merely a matter of putting on a ‘nice’ mask, she genuinely views people with compassion and seeks to bring out the best in them. She freely admits to being no saint, and tells of her Gethsemane struggles to relinquish her personal desires.

    When she learned to be a master gardener, creating astounding beauty out of forlorn landscapes, it paralleled her gift of bringing out the latent potential of undernourished people. She is a genuinely loving person – but she is not a phony Mr. Nice Guy. She will gently call out someone who is being hypocritical or manipulating others, particularly from a position of power. I trust her because she will gently, lovingly admonish me, point out my blindness or arrogance, even while demonstrating her unfailing love and support.

    I assure you that there is an enormous difference between ‘nice’ people and genuinely loving, Christlike people. The spouse or children of such masterful phonies are often the only ones who ever see the mask slip, for brief moments, before they can paste it quickly back on.

    My F-I-L recently passed. As I sought to diplomatically express how I never knew quite what to think of him, I was amazed and relieved when his daughter blurted out, ‘That’s because he was nothing but a phony. Everything about him was fake.’ Seeing through, and even speaking of someone’s phoniness is not being unloving. It simply means one is able to see them as they really are, and is the first step toward healing.

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  18. Max,

    And remember, he is leading a “soul care” program? I thought being “authentic”, or putting it more bluntly, just plain honest/transparent is in important element in having a healthly “soul”

    I for one, would not be “happy” being a contibutor to HBC where the leaders say one thing in public, and such different things in private comunications. They really think the pew peons/donors are a bunch of suckers..

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  19. Jeffrey Chalmers: They really think the pew peons/donors are a bunch of suckers..

    Because for so long they have been.

    Minus The Elephant’s Debt, TWW and relatively recent blogs which seek to tell ‘the rest of the story’ most people simply do not have a clue that the impeccable image they so enjoy each week is simply a well-crafted facade over an unsustainable, crumbling foundation.

    There is enough guilt to go around. And one might suppose that many of the masses drawn to the modern mega-church have never even heard genuine, undistorted, biblical teaching. I have a niece who did not attend church as a child, and she frequently contacts me for input on such and such a book, philosophy or concept being pushed at her mega-church. There literally are ‘fads’, in which everyone will be encouraged to read the latest pop-christian book, or all young families encouraged to adopt foreign children in order to prove their genuine faith . . . despite being somewhat ignorant of scripture, many of these things trigger alarm bells in her mind, and she wants to hear from someone older, who has been in the faith.

    This is what real ‘elders’ are supposed to be about, not persons who control and manipulate people’s lives and financial contributions to line their own pockets.

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  20. dee:
    Lisa Chapman,

    ROFL….These well compensated elders have no ideas how the general population works. My husband has NEVER had a sabbatical.

    These compensated elders are like luxurious long-haired cats sitting in an old lady’s lap being stroked and fussed over.

    I spent years in lawyering and in B2B sales. Both could be brutal—but I’m not complaining, a lot of people had it worse, like my dad with the bad leg who worked at the pre–OSHA railroad maintenance shop. It was the smelliest, loudest, dirtiest place I’d ever seen. Sort of place that cuts lives short. My oldest child, while 9 months pregnant, was working as a tax accountant for a public firm. At the end, she was putting in 80 hour work weeks. Up at 5:30am, head to work, get back home at 8 or 9pm. Repeat Mon through Sat, maybe throw in a 1/2 day Sun. While pregnant out to THERE!

    These guys have no clue. Sounds like they did make work jobs with titles and authority, not real, legitimate work.

    Their main task seems to have been keeping the cardboard image of MacDonald propped up so he could continue to gouge money out of donors and they could keep enriching themselves. Whatever real duties they took on were apparently done with gross negligence and rank incompetence, considering the financial disaster they made of Harvest.

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  21. Jeffrey Chalmers: remember, he is leading a “soul care” program

    Yes, that concerns me. As I noted in an upstream comment:

    “Dr. Higbee, you were complicit in James MacDonald’s unholy leadership for years. As someone responsible for “soul care”, you should have realized that thousands of HBC souls were ensnared by a cult of personality and that those same souls would be greatly impacted when MacDonald’s control, manipulation and intimidation of pastors/elders and fleecing of the flock were exposed.”

    Reminds me of a Scripture “Refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” (Psalm 142:4)

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  22. I have to point out that Higbee is deeply involved in the Biblical Counseling movement, which, IMO, is a tool used to enforce false elder control of church members. I have known far too many who have only had their suffering increased by unhealthy counseling from ‘biblical counselors’.

    I have no trust in the ‘words’ of these leaders of so-called christian organizations, which so often turn out to be rife with hypocrisy and tasked mostly with creating and supporting the celebrity christian leaders of the day. While selling their books for a handsome profit.

    It is high time we got past giving a pass to anything that goes by the name of ‘christian’, ‘pastor’, ‘missions’ or ‘biblical’ and started employing our minds and discretion to judging the fruits of all so-called ‘ministries’.

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  23. Dumb question: Why does a church need a Chief Health Officer? Isn’t that a job best left to professionals in the secular world?

    I mean, sure, if you’re running Mercy Hospital or Baptist Hospital or some other religiously affiliated healthcare organization. But a megachurch? What am I missing here?

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  24. In regards to being “nice”… it reminds me of the Cycle of Abuse. No abuser abuses all the time. There have to be the “nice” times (honeymoon phases) in order to keep people confused and hopeful and basically keep them sucked into the relationship with the abuser. Apparently what works well in an abusive marriage also works well in an abusive mega-church?

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  25. Law Prof,

    Law Prof: I hate nice and consider it less than worthless, it’s often harmful because it gets in the way of being real.

    This line and something in the article got me thinking. About a year ago I was involved in a strong disagreement with the pastor and elders at the tiny little church I had been attending for 17 years. Before this situation started, I started challenging my pastor that he was being “nicer than Jesus.” At one lunch he confessed to me that he was being personally troubled by the statement by Jesus of “woe to you when all men speak well of you.” He was confusing kindness with niceness. He was spending more of his time literally being an amateur stage actor than pastoring. He was caught up in trying to be the nicest man in town, the type who could win the annual “Man of the Year” award. He cut the conviction short by stating that there are religious men on the right who, like men profiled again and again here, hate him for not being “fundamental” enough. But non-believers love him for he never, ever challenges them on anything. He is always too nice. He would sometimes humble brag before the church about his personal cowardice. That always seamed weird to me.

    Then the test come from God. A man about 6 ft tall and built like and ox started coming to the church cross-dressed. This Bob insisted everyone call him “Roberta” and so the pastor, elders and most everyone else did. I did not for I was more concerned about offending God than “Roberta.” This began troubling me because of what God said through the prophets about how he hated cross-dressing and gay sex. These are not my words, but those of the God that we all claimed to be following. Then “Roberta” disappeared for a while and when they came back we learned that they had had a sex change operation. This persons behavior also made it clear that they had other psychological issues. This issue came to a head as I sought the Lord in prayer and fasting in what to do about it, for everyone was bending over backwards trying to be as nice as possible.

    I ended up writing a long letter to the pastor and two elders about my concerns, because I am a writer not a professional speaker. I sent it to them. The pastor just dodged it like the coward he professed to be. One elder got really angry and then two days later apologized for being out of order and dropped out of the whole deal, admitting that he was not up to the whole eldership responsibility thing. The other elder, who was the son-in-law, just kept blasting me and acted just like the many men who we profile here. It was my problem for asking them to love the man enough to confront someone about clear sin issues! They did not want to do that because “Roberta” would get offended and leave. Offending one man was more important than speaking the truth in love. And yet the man had rejected himself at the most fundamental level and was projecting the blame for that on other Christians who noticed something was very wrong.

    The elder who blasted me never repented, or admitted any personal sin issues. I saw the pride in him and in his wife. There were public comments that I knew were aimed at me in discussion times at church by them. This man showed his true hypocritical colors as every time he spoke before the church he claimed to be someone very different, humble and tolerant. What I learned from that experience was that you can never know who your church leaders are until your relationship with them is tested by some big, and meaningful disagreement. As long as you are being nice and not rocking the boat they will be nice to you. And the scripture made it clear that Jesus is not impressed by this basic, even carnal, human behavior.

    The three leaders all reacted sinfully to my inquiries in different ways. None of them owned up to having to repent and make a change that God would approve of. I no longer respect niceness in leaders. I would rather have someone pay the price of obeying the Lord and pissing others off just like the real Jesus did. This is one reason why I respect you Mr. Law Professor. You keep telling it like it is. The little church I was in kept shrinking because this Man is not a Woman and God was the one who gave them that gift. People would walk in, see the leaders call a man a woman and leave. Their salt became useless and was only fit to be thrown out on the ice in the winter and walked over by everyone.

    The challenge in leadership is being kind while, at the same time, never compromising the truth. This requires humility for I have never met any man besides Jesus who could get this right all of the time. But repentance looks like change after mistakes. I have had to do this many times myself as just a layperson and it is part of the real Christian walk. Leaders need to do that even more often. I left that church after a final meeting with the pastor. He said he was not going to change, he was too old in his 60’s. I have heard that less than 10 people are still showing up besides the pastor, elders and their families.

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  26. Yup. I’ve had one vacation in my adult life, which was my three -day honeymoon to Florida. So my heart is not exactly breaking for coddled clergy of any denomination.

    dee:
    Lisa Chapman,

    ROFL….These well compensated elders have no ideas how the general population works. My husband has NEVER had a sabbatical.

    Lisa Chapman: After 20 years without a sabbatical…poor him. My husband and I have been grinding it out far longer. We didn’t know to expect a sabbatical at 20 years or earlier. Didn’t know to expect one at all, in fact.

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  27. dee,

    “These well compensated elders have no ideas how the general population works. My husband has NEVER had a sabbatical.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    i don’t have the lucky chromosome my cousin and uncle have (they win everything).

    but even so, i would bet my bathrobe, hot water bottle, and laptop (my 3 most valuable possessions) and my husband’s wordworking tools (yes, this is risking much) on this:

    whenever a professional christian says, “I am in need of a sabbatical”, everyone mocks them, whether in word or thought.

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  28. Law Prof,

    “These compensated elders are like luxurious long-haired cats sitting in an old lady’s lap being stroked and fussed over.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    ha! that’s funny.

    because it’s so accurate. 😐

    Garrett Higbee is currently Director Of Pastoral Care at Great Commission Collective. (from Linked in)

    one of his goals, he says, is “to care for the pastors of those churches”.

    …wherein such pastors are fussed over even more.

    good grief, the entitlement.

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  29. birdoftheair,

    ” I am so grateful for these discussions on the topic of appearing nice and pious versus being authentic with Jesus and others!”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    i have long noticed that the kindest, most honest people are those who are atheists, agnostics, or who practice a faith tradition that is expressly not the christian one.

    this has been hard for me to come to terms with, all the implications.

    but freeing at the same time.

    in some ways, it has helped me free my relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit from the board rooms, manufacturing machines, and Chuck E. Cheese-church of christianity.

    it has freed my experience of them to be who they are, free of the shackles, costumes, and cages christianity imposes on God.

    (i was going to say it has helped me free them to be who they are…. as if God needed my help there)

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  30. elastigirl,

    I see your point. Just wish to say that there are genuine Christians who often serve God in hidden ways. Some shepherds I know seek true telationsip with God without catering to the peer pressure. Not too many in where I traveled, but quite a few. So I don’t want you to be dismayed about the whole church world. Remember the unknown believers in many lands of oersecution, remember the many missionaries who gave their lives for what they considered worthy in eternity. Don’t let these bad bad examples overshadow God’s power and glory in our vision!

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  31. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    Dumb question: Why does a church need a Chief Health Officer? Isn’t that a job best left to professionals in the secular world?

    I mean, sure, if you’re running Mercy Hospital or Baptist Hospital or some other religiously affiliated healthcare organization. But a megachurch? What am I missing here?

    A lot of these offices were bogus, just like the church. Of course a church doesn’t need such an office. These are make work jobs with fake titles. The actual role was probably along the lines of “yes man, interference-runner for Mac”, just like the role that was occupied by the other exec elders. This place wasn’t run like a corporation, it was run like a good ‘ll boys club, and their burn rate of church $ in the process of indulging themselves and placating the needs of the emotional 4 year old at the helm was simply astonishing.

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  32. Mary27:
    In regards to being “nice”… it reminds me of the Cycle of Abuse. No abuser abuses all the time. There have to be the “nice” times (honeymoon phases) in order to keep people confused and hopeful and basically keep them sucked into the relationship with the abuser. Apparently what works well in an abusive marriage also works well in an abusive mega-church?

    After the final break from Pastor Ed, NPD, the truly ugly meeting where he revealed himself to be an absolute sadistic monster (and knew he could get away with it, because no one in the church would believe it if I told them how he’d really behaved—even I have trouble processing it 6 years later), about 4 months later he texted me, all sweetness, saying he really missed the family and me back at the church and wanted to repair our relationship. I just texted him back his final words to me, after I’d (rightly) accused him of lying repeatedly, I told him “I’ll consider it, when you tell me what you meant when you told me ‘I never lie, I thank God I have no problem with lying’.” He never texted back.

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  33. Law Prof: Pastor Ed … lying repeatedly

    “You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father … When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” (John 8:44)

    If Pastor Ed intrudes into you life again, text him this. He should move along and pester someone else at that point.

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  34. Dee, it’s way past time that I thank you for all of the work you have put into this! Your writing, attention to facts vs opinions, your alignment with those who have had no voice (abused wives, children, and all of those who have been discounted, discredited, minimized, and lambasted for “making waves” that might expose truth and upset the applecart of big money/celeb status/performance as worship. When light shines in the darkness, and the name of Jesus is lifted higher than any other, there is hope. Thank you, Dee, for pressing on, and for your courageous commitment. As someone posted earlier, these men’s names are usually not known beyond the empires they have built, so it is a small slice of the population that has actually heard of the Calvinist/Complementarian guys and their messes. However, they are each singularly and deeply responsible for injuring every soul who trusted and looked to them for pastoral care and leadership. We who are followers of Christ serve a mighty God who is known by Love and Compassion. God is also just, and will not be mocked. I pray that what is still hidden will be brought to light, and I pray for you, Dee, and your important ministry here.

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  35. GAFS

    All I know about Mr Higbee comes from the two documents here: that is, his statement, and his resignation letter. A number of Wartburgers have commented about the disconnect between the two, and I want to pick up on this. To summarise:

     The statement describes a number of quite specific concerns about the things he believed were wrong
     The letter to Mr MacDonald expresses unconditional praise and affection

    Out of context, that does look strange. But when you’re entangled in a cult-like organisation, you do strange things. When Lesley and I left the cult we were part of in Glasgow:

     There were many things we knew were wrong, but couldn’t quite put our finger on and didn’t know how to articulate;
     We knew we were dealing with someone who was very accomplished at deflecting, misdirection and manipulation;
     We knew how previous leavers had been dealt with, and that leaving would cost us nearly all the friends we had made;
     We were not, and are not, shrewd politicians and we didn’t know how to fight clean against someone who would fight dirty;
     Correct or otherwise, we had ideas about the right, Christian thing to do that we strongly wished to follow
     We’d spent years learning to deny ourselves and dismiss our own needs
     We were desperate to be taken seriously

    That last point is important. We didn’t, in the end, make any attempt to engage with the cult CEO because we knew we’d get nowhere. I don’t mean that we wouldn’t win the argument or get him to change. I mean that we would have been bringing a spoon to a gunfight. We just shut the door on him, and spoke about our concerns elsewhere, in a setting where we would actually have a chance of being listened to.

    So I don’t blame Mr Higbee for the discrepancies between the two documents.

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  36. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Why does a church need a Chief Health Officer? Isn’t that a job best left to professionals in the secular world?

    I wonder this, too, having seen a couple of small denominations start a column on physical health in their regular publication sent to members. Smack dab in the middle of church stuff will be an article on high blood pressure. Neither publication ever has how-to/science/culture/world news articles AT ALL. But they have a health columnist. ??

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  37. birdoftheair: We see human leaders try so hard to put on a good image and cover ugly stuff, in the meantime the name of Christ suffers dishonor. Do we bear the image of our Redeemer or that of the Deceiver?

    You know, that’s what disturbs me the most about the mega-mess we have made of the American church. When these big boys and their empires crash, those caught up in the chaos around them whine about being victims, the pew becomes confused and disillusioned as they see their faith communities in shambles, and a lost world looking in has yet another reason to say there’s nothing to it all. Yet, the fact that the precious name of Jesus has been trampled in the street seldom comes up in the mix of emotions that are being spewed forth. The Main Thing just doesn’t seem to be the main thing anymore.

    You ask “Do we bear the image of our Redeemer or that of the Deceiver?” It should be increasingly clear that in many corners of the American church, we are looking in the mirror and seeing our ugly mug staring back at us. When our religious expressions are focused on ourselves, rather than Christ, we find that’s what we have left when the ride is over – ourselves.

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  38. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Why does a church need a Chief Health Officer? Isn’t that a job best left to professionals in the secular world?

    Some of today’s churches also want to reinvent the police force. I can imagine a “health officer” intervening in all sorts of situations, from marital counseling to the advice of board-certified pediatric neurosurgeons. The church knows better than some random guy with 15 years of medical training, doncha know. The sky’s the limit!

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  39. Sòpwith:
    Are these akin to the days of Noah predicted long ago in the pages of holy scripture, where virtue is distinguished by the semblance of diminished value?

    A nod’s as good as a bird in the hand to a man grasping the nettle of a blind horse while Rome burns.

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  40. Sòpwith: Are these akin to the days of Noah predicted long ago in the pages of holy scripture, where virtue is distinguished by the semblance of diminished value?

    Indeed. Virtue has been redefined by much of the 21st century church … the moral bar has been lowered for those who aspire to ministry. A faithful man who can find?

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  41. I too want to say thank you to Dee for this blog! I’ve experienced many, so many, of the things that are written about in the posts here over the years. My church was/is small and my experiences only similar but enough to gain an extreme amount of help from The Wartburg Watch and all of those who post here. My family and I felt so very much alone when we walked though our pain. Loss of home, loss of job, loss of ministry, and all replaced with intense confusion. Although we were never told why, as, EVERY TIME we asked questions we were shut down with the phrase “As an elder board we have already decided…” even though we knew currently serving elders who didn’t know a thing about it. It’s been many years now, but the pain is still there. I have not stepped foot in a church building with the exception of going at the request of grand childen on various occasions. Not for one minute have I ever felt that God has turned His back on us. He most certainly has not. The healing that we have received has mostly come through Dee, and the posters here who bare their souls. Thank you. And keep it up. (Always reading, rarely commenting.)

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  42. Done One,

    that’s really great to hear. the good, healing part, that is. so very sorry for the crud that happened. it just sucks.

    indeed, God never ONCE turns his back on people (just because they don’t go to a building. just because they aren’t part of the exclusive in-group).

    (as i typed that i’m wondering if God even turns his back on a human being ever.)

    (pardon the thinking out loud here — did God turn his back on Hitler? Polpot? i imagine God was furious – i’m guess with something along the lines of hot rage. but had they they done a radical spiritual/ethical 360 would God have been right there with open arms?)

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  43. Law Prof: and knew he could get away with it, because no one in the church would believe it if I told them how he’d really behaved

    Exactly. When week after week he stood up front and said exactly the opposite of what he had said to me in private, I was utterly astonished. Who would ever believe me? Not even my own spouse of 30 years – that’s how much we all trusted this guy.

    Only after the blinders were ripped from my eyes was I able to reevaluate the many red flags I had ignored and tucked into my subconsious. They all came roaring forward, and I was appalled at my own stupidity for not seeing it sooner.

    Oh, it was nothing super obvious, like JMac, but when family after family leaves, bruised and bleeding, and the congregation is told each time, ‘They were never really one of us’, it’s time to start asking questions.

    There is no one who is above critical thinking and serious questioning. There is no mere man who ‘speaks for God’ and must be unquestioningly submitted to.

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  44. TS00: Exactly. When week after week he stood up front and said exactly the opposite of what he had said to me in private, I was utterly astonished.

    Of course, and he knew that. Maybe even hoped you would tell others, because then people would be convinced you’d come unhinged and he could prove up that you were “never really one of” them. Or, if he decided to play nice guy, he could get that “godly, concerned” look on his face and shake his head and cluck his tongue and tell people they diligently needed to pray for you, because you’d obviously lost your mind or were having a major crisis of faith.

    So he could kill two birds with one stone: make himself look more righteous (here he is concerned with the well-being of someone attempting to assassinate his “impeccable” character) and make you look completely nuts and dangerous, not worthy of 10 seconds of consideration. Quite a game the average sociopath or NPD can play. Of course, while they’re cunning and ruthless, having no conscience to burden them, they’re also usually quite stupid, because they cannot typically assess very well the consequences of their actions (like anyone with the mind of a four year old), and in time, they usually flame out. Sounds like this guy was running off all the decent people in the church, preventing himself from becoming the Big Thing with the Big Church that he surely thought his genius and talent warranted. Even those with enough foresight to build a big church, such as Driscoll, Hybels or MacDonald usually find a way to sabotage it in time.

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  45. Done One: I’ve experienced many, so many, of the things that are written about in the posts here over the years. My church was/is small … pain … loss … confusion

    Spiritual abuse is not confined to mega-mania only. It raises its ugly head wherever there is an opening for bad-boy church leaders to use and abuse the children of God. There will be a payday someday for that bunch.

    I’m praying that you will find peace in the valley. So many who comment here have similar stories … done with the organized church, but not done with Jesus. When the man whom Jesus healed was tossed out of church, Jesus went looking for him. He knows your loss, pain, and confusion. He’s still there when the church is not.

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  46. Done One,

    I share your thoughts… while I have not walked away from a church, per say, I have sure felt the “ you are not pious enough” and “you ask to many questions”, and “you think to much” , etc, more times than I can count, from fundies to evangelicals….
    i have actually found the community on this blog to be the most spirtually encouraging that I have experienced…. because, dispite a wide range of theologies, there is an openess and a sence that it is ok to say, “ this situation smells rotten”… and, this community is willing to leave the 99, and look for the lost “one”…
    funny, a rabbi from Bethlehem once did that…

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  47. Nick Bulbeck,

    I like/take serious all of your points. I experienced similar issues coming from a hard core fundamentalist, young earth creation indocturation, and I have now been a scientist/bioengineer at a major secular University for over 30 years…. I now have the tools/maturity to deal with that nonscence, I did not when I went to college.

    BUT, mr higbee is a “counseler” and runs a “counciling program” out of a church. You should be better qualified than Mr. Higbee to deal with McDonald head on, as he should have been?

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  48. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    Typo alert..
    Last line should read.. “WHO should be better qualified than Mr Higbee….”

    I have been in vaguely similar situations professionally ( i.e. disfunctional and poor behaving individuals) and colleagues and I after careful considerations (which was time and emotional drains) acted collectively to confront the person/issues using mechanisms available to us…. i do not expect praise for our actions, we just did “what we should do”… note, there was no “religious” implications… this was a secular work environment…

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  49. Law Prof: Of course, and he knew that. Maybe even hoped you would tell others, because then people would be convinced you’d come unhinged and he could prove up that you were “never really one of” them. Or, if he decided to play nice guy, he could get that “godly, concerned” look on his face and shake his head and cluck his tongue and tell people they diligently needed to pray for you, because you’d obviously lost your mind or were having a major crisis of faith.

    You are the first person to ever see it the way I saw it. And I honestly wondered if I was nuts for thinking that way at the time. I feared for a time that he might try and get my family to check me in somewhere for my own ‘safety’, so I stopped talking about his lies and inconsistencies. Great strategy, either way, to destroy my marriage and get rid of me once he knew I saw through him. And yes, my spouse was convinced that it was all in my mind, because the wise, caring, trustworthy pastor could never be doubted, now could he? So thankful that someone understands.

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  50. elastigirl: (pardon the thinking out loud here — did God turn his back on Hitler? Polpot? i imagine God was furious – i’m guess with something along the lines of hot rage. but had they they done a radical spiritual/ethical 360 would God have been right there with open arms?)

    I think this encapsulates the problem of religion.

    Sure, I understand life & death. It’s a cycle. Why we have suffer to get to death eludes me. And no religion explains it.

    For what it’s worth, pol pot & Hitler turned their back on God – and any basic concept of ‘good’ this universe has to offer.

    However brassed God was, he didn’t see fit to intervene in their murderous designs any more than he intervened in Driscoll or Mahaney or Jmac n cheese. Or the abuse rampant in any number of faiths.

    I suppose that’s the true mystery.

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  51. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    I, ttoo, have found TWW to be a shelter in the storm-and a place where support and genuine care have been shown. Through kind words of encouragement and authentic concern, I have experienced the ‘99 out looking for the lost one’. TWW has been one of the very few places that I come to see, hear, and find love as I believe Christ meant it to be lived out.

    I’d add my voice to those expressing gratitude to Dee as well for her courage, consistency, and most evidently, her care for so many needing to find their voice. You have changed many people’s lives – mine included.

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  52. TS00,

    I wanted to cheer and clap when you described the diabolical process so clearly and well! It makes a person look crazy just to tell the truth as it happens. I felt like a cornered animal. There was literally nothing I could say or do that wasn’t used against me. Disorienting and disheartening.

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  53. Jack: Sure, I understand life & death. It’s a cycle. Why we have suffer to get to death eludes me. And no religion explains it.

    For what it’s worth, pol pot & Hitler turned their back on God – and any basic concept of ‘good’ this universe has to offer.

    However brassed God was, he didn’t see fit to intervene in their murderous designs any more than he intervened in Driscoll or Mahaney or Jmac n cheese. Or the abuse rampant in any number of faiths.

    I suppose that’s the true mystery.

    Yes. Or when the most helpless and vulnerable among us, babies and children, are abused or murdered. Silence from heaven.

    This site and others like it are the only real example I see of prayers being answered. The rest of the time it seems to me like we just interpret random chance as we will. But silence reigns.

    And yet somehow I still believe. But I’m hurting.

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  54. SiteSeer: But silence reigns.

    And yet somehow I still believe.

    I was young and now am old. In my long Christian journey, I have experienced periods of silence, when God just didn’t seem to be hearing my prayers and acting as I thought He ought. But as you note “I still believe.” Instead of retreating during those times, I found it better to advance in faith … knowing that He is still at work, even though I might not see exactly how He is working. So in times like these, I pray more diligently, read His Word for a “word” from Him, trust His guidance, and remember that He will not forsake me.

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  55. SiteSeer: And yet somehow I still believe. But I’m hurting.

    I share your struggles. When the questions come into my mind, when I wonder if the whole ‘God’ thing maybe is just a myth, my mind is drawn to the times when I did feel as if something outside myself sustained me through difficult times. Though I have not suffered as some have, I have endured things that I could not have faced alone.

    I don’t get the suffering of the innocent at all. I have given up pretending that I do. I just admit to God that I don’t get it and I don’t like it, and keep asking him to show me if there is something I should be doing to make it stop. When I find myself on the edge of despair, I find that there is this mustard seed of belief that will not let me give up, an ultimate belief in a purpose and goodness that will someday be made clear. I see its image in the beauty of the sky, the land, the ocean and the tiny beings who have grown into young men and women.

    I do believe that God is real, and that he is not the source of evil in this world. I suspect that evil must be allowed to run its course, to be shown for the horrible, destructive force that it is, in order for all who treasure what is good and lovely to voluntarily reject it once and for all. I trust that God will one day gently wipe away every tear, and replace our sorrow with surpassing joy.

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  56. Law Prof: Or, if he decided to play nice guy, he could get that “godly, concerned” look on his face and shake his head and cluck his tongue and tell people they diligently needed to pray for you, because you’d obviously lost your mind or were having a major crisis of faith.

    I swear you know my former pastor.

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  57. elastigirl: pardon the thinking out loud here — did God turn his back on Hitler? Polpot? i imagine God was furious

    This most serious question comes up with a hint of humor in Robinson Crusoe. As Friday becomes a Christian, he asks Crusoe this:

    “…if God much strong, much might as the Devil, why God no kill the Devil, so make him no more do wicked?”

    Crusoe lacks a ready answer: “…at first I could not tell what to say, and I pretended not to hear him, and ask’d him what he said?”

    Crusoe blames not God but his own poor scholarship: “I was… ill enough qualify’d as a Casuist, or Solver of Difficulties.” Friday becomes a good Christian anyway. He chooses Crusoe’s God, who is available to all, over the remote mountain god of his own society.

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  58. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Jeffrey Chalmers,

    Typo alert..
    Last line should read.. “WHO should be better qualified than Mr Higbee….”

    I have been in vaguely similar situations professionally ( i.e. disfunctional and poor behaving individuals)and colleagues and I aftercareful considerations (which wastime and emotional drains) acted collectively to confront the person/issues using mechanisms available to us….i do not expect praise for our actions, we just did “what we should do”…note, there was no “religious” implications… this was a secular work environment…

    You don’t have to worry about the typos, not with an Ivy League PhD in the hard sciences. Just sayin. 🙂

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  59. TS00: You are the first person to ever see it the way I saw it. And I honestly wondered if I was nuts for thinking that way at the time. I feared for a time that he might try and get my family to check me in somewhere for my own ‘safety’, so I stopped talking about his lies and inconsistencies. Great strategy, either way, to destroy my marriage and get rid of me once he knew I saw through him. And yes, my spouse was convinced that it was all in my mind, because the wise, caring, trustworthy pastor could never be doubted, now could he? So thankful that someone understands.

    Sure, once you know the mindset of the person that psychologists say has NPD and the Bible says has a seared conscience, it’s pretty easy to see it. While they’re cunning and clever—in a way—they are so boring and predictable. Their only real advantage is in convincing you they’re not what they are, that they’re just another normal person like you. They take advantage of people by surprising them, you just can’t believe that a decent human being with a conscience would do that. You can’t believe that the private person is so different from the public person. Like any normal person thinking the best of people, you give them the benefit of the doubt, and you go crazy trying to reconcile their public good with their private evil.

    But once you realize they have neither decency nor a conscience, you can always think one step ahead of them—because again, like any four-year old, they are not very smart.

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  60. TS00,

    It is called gaslighting, and your description is a perfect example…
    .. it seems religious institutions are a great place for these practitioners…. when you stop and think about it, it really is a great place for these scamers to practice…. you are “pitching” eternal life, and there is no way to really test them on their “pitch”….
    in other professions, their is usually a hard/cold reality…. internal happiness/eternal life is not verifiable….. by definition, it is by faith…. so, a great place for a scammer to set up shop pitching he has the “only true way”…

    I can not tell you over the years how many different flavors of Christainity told me their “distictives” were the “right ones”…. now, add a person that has perfected “gaslighting”, and you have a “winning” combination..

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  61. Folks, when you are dealing with someone with two faces, that acts out in private in ways that conflict with their public persona, you need to start carrying your cell phone in your shirt pocket and recording (where legal) all your private conversations with that two-faces person. Then when they say you are lying, you have 27 hours of their confabulation preserved for use in your defense.

    My wife had a great career with an international organization. They didn’t, however, train managers, or hire trained managers, they promoted people who wanted to transfer from the primary business purpose of the org into managing the folks doing that primary work. Many of them wanted that promotion because it provided them with nearly unlimited control of their local staff.

    This is how these independent churches operate. The head pastor can over time create a board that supports him, no matter what, because they believe in his leadership. It’s a very attractive lifestyle for those who want to control other people, to bask in the adoration of a crowd.

    My wife was mistreated, berated, eventually her psychiatrist told her to tell her manager she was in treatment, and to ask for the consideration she was entitled to under the ADA act. Big mistake – they used her “confession” as a tool to beat her with. If she had recorded that treatment, being shouted at by both senior leadership managers in her local office, after asking for one small consideration for her illness — Not To Be Shouted At Or Berated — they never spoke to her again in a normal tone of voice. Illegal, but where’s the proof?

    But today, everyone carries a recording device, and usually quite a good one, with nearly unlimited capacity of high quality audio and video. By Apple, or Google, or Samsung, etc. Protect yourself and teach these NPD manipulators their true place, which would be flipping burgers or that level of work… They are barely fit to attend church, let alone preach of teach at one.

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  62. Max: I was young and now am old.In my long Christian journey, I have experienced periods of silence, when God just didn’t seem to be hearing my prayers and acting as I thought He ought.But as you note “I still believe.”Instead of retreating during those times, I found it better to advance in faith … knowing that He is still at work, even though I might not see exactly how He is working.So in times like these, I pray more diligently, read His Word for a “word” from Him, trust His guidance, and remember that He will not forsake me.

    There’s some precedent for this: Job.

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  63. Jack: However brassed God was, he didn’t see fit to intervene in their murderous designs any more than he intervened in Driscoll or Mahaney or Jmac n cheese. Or the abuse rampant in any number of faiths.

    I suppose that’s the true mystery.

    A mystery for which ATHEISM has a simple solution.

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  64. TS00: When I find myself on the edge of despair, I find that there is this mustard seed of belief that will not let me give up, an ultimate belief in a purpose and goodness that will someday be made clear. I see its image in the beauty of the sky, the land, the ocean and the tiny beings who have grown into young men and women.

    In the words of Samwise Gamgee the Hobbit:

    “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.

    “Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

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  65. Max: “Dr. Higbee, you were complicit in James MacDonald’s unholy leadership for years. As someone responsible for “soul care”, you should have realized that thousands of HBC souls were ensnared by a cult of personality and that those same souls would be greatly impacted when MacDonald’s control, manipulation and intimidation of pastors/elders and fleecing of the flock were exposed.”

    But he was one of the Inner Ring who personally benefited from The Way Things Were.

    Hard to see anything wrong where you’re personally benefiting from NOT seeing anything wrong.

    “What do you mean, ‘The System is Broken’? The System Works Just Fine (for MEEEEEEEEEEE)!”

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  66. Thank you all for your kin d words. I am the one who is blessed by your willingness to discuss these difficult issues and to share your personal stories. I do not take this for granted. I just wished I wasn’t so overwhelmed by so many folks contacting me. I miss being part of the discussion which is my favorite part of this whole thing.

    Love you guys- truly.

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  67. Here’s one for you.

    A British Airways flight from London City to Düsseldorf today flew to Edinburgh by mistake.

    Never having been to Düsseldorf, I can’t compare the two cities. But as it’s a glorious spring day up here, I can understand the flight crew wanting to head north.

    IHTIH

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  68. Jeffrey Chalmers: BUT, mr higbee is a “counseler” and runs a “counciling program” out of a church. Who should be better qualified than Mr. Higbee to deal with McDonald head on, as he should have been?

    Yes, I share your reservation about my reservations. My only reservation about our reservation about my original reservations is that only last year, I left an abusive secular employer (toxic public-sector management) without properly and frankly calling out the abuse. I’m not entirely sure why, but I am certainly old enough to know better the noo.

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  69. J R in WV:
    Folks, when you are dealing with someone with two faces, that acts out in private in ways that conflict with their public persona, you need to start carrying your cell phone in your shirt pocket and recording (where legal) all your private conversations with that two-faces person. Then when they say you are lying, you have 27 hours of their confabulation preserved for use in your defense.

    My wife had a great career withan international organization. They didn’t, however, train managers, or hire trained managers, they promoted people who wanted to transfer from the primary business purpose of the org into managing the folks doing that primary work. Many of them wanted that promotion because it provided them with nearly unlimited control of their local staff.

    This is how these independent churches operate. The head pastor can over time create a board that supports him, no matter what, because they believe in his leadership. It’s a very attractive lifestyle for those who want to control other people, to bask in the adoration of a crowd.

    My wife was mistreated, berated, eventually her psychiatrist told her to tell her manager she was in treatment, and to ask for the consideration she was entitled to under the ADA act. Big mistake – they used her “confession” as a tool to beat her with. If she had recorded that treatment, being shouted at by both senior leadership managers in her local office, after asking for one small consideration for her illness — Not To Be Shouted At Or Berated — they never spoke to her again in a normal tone of voice. Illegal, but where’s the proof?

    But today, everyone carries a recording device, and usually quite a good one, with nearly unlimited capacity of high quality audio and video. By Apple, or Google, or Samsung, etc. Protect yourself and teach these NPD manipulators their true place, which would be flipping burgers or that level of work… They are barely fit to attend church, let alone preach of teach at one.

    Maybe there should be a practice started of not allowing sons to take over for fathers in the pulpit. Let the son, if gifted as a teacher/preacher, find a different pulpit to preach from. The physical church structure is a place to gather for the body of Christ, not a family business. How does one write that into the operating documents of the church?

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  70. Headless Unicorn Guy: Jack: However brassed God was, he didn’t see fit to intervene in their murderous designs any more than he intervened in Driscoll or Mahaney or Jmac n cheese. Or the abuse rampant in any number of faiths.

    I suppose that’s the true mystery.

    A mystery for which ATHEISM has a simple solution

    In allowing for what I believe — that God exists and cares despite the existence of earthly tragedies, I’ve had to consider that God working out worthy purposes comes with consequences that by their very nature would prevent Him from always intervening, resetting, what have you.

    If God is working out such purposes (such as those related to creation and the space in reality it occupies, justice — especially as it bears out over time, revealing the nature of man and creation, ending sin and death, etc.), I don’t know how exactly a creator would go about allowing for choices by the creation and constantly insulate them from consequences in the world/in the flesh without constant resets. The latter is problematic for priorities such as bearing witness in reality to the consequences of elevating the ways of man over the ways of God.

    Per Scripture, there was a reset of great consequence in the form of the Flood. As God clearly intended to join Himself to His creation directly as born out by Jesus becoming man and thus brother to created man, such a commitment in reality would necessarily affect the options of worldly reset going forward. If however a great reset is put to a later time when it corresponds to the other objectives listed above and how they specifically relate to the role of Jesus Christ in them, as pointed to in Scripture, I see purpose and care in that, especially as God has not exempted Himself from the sorrows but has joined Himself to those suffering via His Son, who was acquainted with sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) and took on ours (verse 4).

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  71. J R in WV,

    I had a similar experience with an ADA situation. After that I always listen to what the pastor in the pulpit says, not his body movement, even if I have to close my eyes. After the service, I will cross reference with a commentary. That’s how I determine if I’m either getting truth or ego. After the bad work experience I’ve learned to not take what anyone said at face value.

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  72. Nick Bulbeck: Yes, I share your reservation about my reservations. My only reservation about our reservation about my original reservations is that only last year, I left an abusive secular employer (toxic public-sector management) without properly and frankly calling out the abuse. I’m not entirely sure why, but I am certainly old enough to know better the noo.

    Most of the times I’ve told myself I’m old enough to know better, it seems God puts me in a situation where I find out I don’t know better.

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  73. Brian,

    “I always listen to what the pastor in the pulpit says, not his body movement, even if I have to close my eyes. After the service, I will cross reference with a commentary. That’s how I determine if I’m either getting truth or ego. After the bad work experience I’ve learned to not take what anyone said at face value.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    ha… good thinking.

    especially since i think the content of a good many sermons beyond face value is nothing more than the recipe for cold cereal for dinner.

    delivered with the kind of compelling, gripping facial expression and voice intonation as if it was the answer to solving world hunger.

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  74. Question:
    What does Higbee mean by “another crisis” and later on refer to McDonald’s “breakdown”. First I’ve heard of a “breakdown”. Perhaps a reference to some type of mental collapse? Without more information from Higbee it is useless to try to understand what his meaning is.

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  75. Brian: The firewall of pain is blocking the brain, further explanation please

    Jesus had no children, therefore no son to inherit his ministry.

    If people want to be literal about emulating Jesus, they could reject the practice of handing the pulpit down to Junior. Of course, people tend to be selective about which practices are rules and which practices are just practices.

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  76. Law Prof,

    Law Prof: This comment is amazing! You have such great insights into what so many of us are struggling with. As advocates and whistleblowers you are such an encouragement to help us keep on fighting the fight. Please keep commenting- many of us who are dealing with issues at CCC look forward to and depend on your insights to understand all of this- at times it can be quite confusing.

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  77. Law Prof: They take advantage of people by surprising them, you just can’t believe that a decent human being with a conscience would do that. You can’t believe that the private person is so different from the public person. Like any normal person thinking the best of people, you give them the benefit of the doubt, and you go crazy trying to reconcile their public good with their private evil.

    This! This is what held, and continues to hold so many under the spell. Good, decent, honest, God-fearing folk cannot even conceive that this pastor they love, this upright, intelligent man of God who provides such excellent teaching could possibly, possibly be the person that some idiot(s) dare suggest. Lie, deceive, manipulate, subjugate and devalue his own wife and children? Unthinkable. These people are obviously nuts; even though we once viewed them as dear, wise, mature, godly elders and friends.

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  78. Law Prof,

    TS00,

    When I was a young man – eons ago – my father told me once “Son, never trust a preacher who wears his shirt collar open to show off his gold choker chain.” I would add black leather jacket to that … and 6-figure salary … and mansion … and summer/winter retreats … and private jet … etc. Good Lord! What were HBC members thinking?!! “Oh, but his sermons were so relevant!” Open minds usually result in your brains lying at your feet.

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  79. Am curious about the “biblical soul care ministry” of HBC that GH led:

    Do we know whether this was used as a means of “fact gathering” for the purposes of 9Marks-style church discipline, as has been reported to happen in some churches that embrace 9Marks and that have in-house counseling? Dee mentioned in the OP some concerns about breach of confidentiality; is that related to this question?

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  80. Max: “Oh, but his sermons were so relevant!” Open minds usually result in your brains lying at your feet.

    People with disposable incomes can always afford ‘open minds’, with their brains strewn about their feet. I often call it ‘first world folly’.

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  81. Samuel Conner: Am curious about the “biblical soul care ministry” of HBC that GH led:

    Do we know whether this was used as a means of “fact gathering” for the purposes of 9Marks-style church discipline, as has been reported to happen in some churches that embrace 9Marks and that have in-house counseling? Dee mentioned in the OP some concerns about breach of confidentiality; is that related to this question?

    Very good question. This sort of consistory is known to exist in most such control-centered operations. And note, this does not require those doing the fact gathering to know what is going on. I indeed know very well-meaning people who have become part of the Biblical Counseling movement. I believe they have good intentions, and no desire to hurt people. I also suspect they are being used, as ‘reporting’ to the leaders is part of their duty.

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  82. TS00: I indeed know very well-meaning people who have become part of the Biblical Counseling movement. I believe they have good intentions, and no desire to hurt people. I also suspect they are being used, as ‘reporting’ to the leaders is part of their duty.

    Just Like Scientology.

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  83. TS00: Very good question. This sort of consistory is known to exist in most such control-centered operations. And note, this does not require those doing the fact gathering to know what is going on. I indeed know very well-meaning people who have become part of the Biblical Counseling movement. I believe they have good intentions, and no desire to hurt people. I also suspect they are being used, as ‘reporting’ to the leaders is part of their duty.

    Is this different from biblically based licensed counselors?

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  84. Brian: Is this different from biblically based licensed counselors?

    My understanding is that state-licensed counselors are obligated to respect confidentiality standards (standards which, I think, are enumerated in state laws). There are state-licensed counselors who are trained in a recognized form of (secular) counseling or therapy and who also have training in biblical counseling. (In CCEF’s “Theology and Secular Psychology” class [at least when I took it nearly a decade ago] this is suggested as a path for those among the students who want to counsel vocationally) This is sometimes done by BC-trained people wanting to counsel vocationally who want to be able to accept insurance in payment of counseling fees. Counselors in this situation likewise have to respect privacy laws or they may lose their license and perhaps their livelihood.

    No-fee counseling offered by the local church sounds like a good and biblical thing (what did the churches do for the many centuries prior to the advent of modern forms of therapy?) and I would like to believe that in a properly functioning body of believers who were motivated by genuine love (especially so among the leaders) rather than by control issues it could be highly beneficial. It is very disheartening to read of the ways that something that ought to be a love-motivated service of mercy is employed as an instrument to control and harm people.

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  85. Craig:
    Law Prof,

    Law Prof: This comment is amazing! You have such great insights into what so many of us are struggling with. As advocates and whistleblowers you are such an encouragement to help us keep on fighting the fight. Please keep commenting- many of us who are dealing with issues at CCC look forward to and depend on your insights to understand all of this- at times it can be quite confusing.

    Thanks so much, glad to be a help, but don’t put much stock in me. Only advantage I have is I’ve been around a while and made more monumentally stupid decisions in either leading or following my family into destructive cults led by people without a conscience—three, actually. So I have more experience with this stuff. Have seen it up close and personal more than once. Have experienced that twisting of the brain that goes on when you try and fit the actions of an evil person with no conscience into the mold of a decent person who has a conscience. Round peg—square hole. Does not fit.

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  86. Law Prof: glad to be a help … I have more experience with this stuff. Have seen it up close and personal more than once …

    “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Cor 1:4)

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  87. Max: “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Cor 1:4)

    Hope that’s what’s happening.

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  88. TS00: Good, decent, honest, God-fearing folk cannot even conceive that this pastor they love, this upright, intelligent man of God who provides such excellent teaching could possibly, possibly be the person that some idiot(s) dare suggest.

    Yes. But once this has happened to you, your mind blown, your eyes opened, you pass from a state of naivety to wisdom and you see things as you never did before. People who have never once seen behind the curtain with a person like this, a person who operates outside the realm of conscience, they really have no clue- and they have no clue that they have no clue! I have a friend who, no matter how powerful the evidence for outright personality disorder or evil, just responds, “but God can change anyone’s heart, though,” and I just want to face-palm. Yeah… But don’t hold your breath.

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  89. SiteSeer,

    I agree and add this. I am quite often known, both in my professional, secular world, and in the “Christian bubble” that I can be cynical about things, especially involving humans.. I like to think I am “pragmatic”. Further, I am not one to go around quoting Bible verses, but an honest reading from front to back pretty much highlights how humans can do bad things, even those that are highly raised up in the Bible (think David).. So, I would content that people that “can’t believe that celebrity pastor ABC could so such a thing” have not taken the message of the Bible to heart.. Is pastor ABC really “better” than the famous characters in the Bible??

    P.S. being cynical actually helps get you through life… while disappointed by people, since I have lower expectations, I do not get let down as hard when something “disappointing” happens..

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  90. SiteSeer: TS00: Good, decent, honest, God-fearing folk cannot even conceive that this pastor they love, this upright, intelligent man of God who provides such excellent teaching could possibly, possibly be the person that some idiot(s) dare suggest.

    Yes. But once this has happened to you, your mind blown, your eyes opened, you pass from a state of naivety to wisdom and you see things as you never did before.

    You have taken the Red Pill, and now see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

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  91. SiteSeer: Yes. But once this has happened to you, your mind blown, your eyes opened, you pass from a state of naivety to wisdom and you see things as you never did before.

    This is the original meaning of “Discernment” — to see beneath the appearance to the reality.

    Convenient how it became redefined to mean “seeing DEMONS and WITCHES under every bed”, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

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  92. Max: “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Cor 1:4)

    Because if one collapses, the other can pull him back up.

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  93. Law Prof: Pastor Ed, NPD, the truly ugly meeting where he revealed himself to be an absolute sadistic monster (and knew he could get away with it, because no one in the church would believe it if I told them how he’d really behaved

    “GO AHEAD AND SQUEAL, TATTLE-TALE! NOBODY WILL EVER BELIEVE YOU! BECAUSE YOU’RE JUST THE CRAZY KID AND I’M THE SWEET LITTLE ANGEL!”
    — my NPD Manipulator little brother, to me multiple times as we were growing up

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  94. Jeff Chalmers: P.S. being cynical actually helps get you through life… while disappointed by people, since I have lower expectations, I do not get let down as hard when something “disappointing” happens..

    That’s how I explain it to my pie in the sky spouse who refuses to entertain the slightest negative thought ever. (Too many positive thinking books.) I prefer to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised. I think my approach allows me to be more capable of being realistic, whereas the rose-colored glasses permanently distort one’s view.

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  95. Muff Potter:
    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Hilariously funny and true at the same time.

    It explains deftly how not just fundagelical barkers get rich, but how anybody can with a scripted sales pitch.

    It’s one of my favorite TED Talks.

    And despite his claims, he IS saying something.
    He’s illustrating the manipulation tricks a speaker can use to get you to swallow his BS.

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  96. TS00: That’s how I explain it to my pie in the sky spouse who refuses to entertain the slightest negative thought ever. (Too many positive thinking books.)

    My father survived WW2 through a combination of utter fatalism and total positive thinking.
    Unfortunately, he continued in this after V-J Day.
    It ended up putting him on a perpetual Egyptian River Cruise with partial detachment from reality.
    (He remained functional all his life, but it made him clueless if anything didn’t fit his preconceptions. And an easy mark for manipulators like his youngest son.)

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  97. pete kramer: Question:
    What does Higbee mean by “another crisis” and later on refer to McDonald’s “breakdown”. First I’ve heard of a “breakdown”. Perhaps a reference to some type of mental collapse?

    Don’t Ask Political Questions, Comrade.

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  98. Pingback: Guest Post: Kristen Draughan as a Licensed Social Worker Explains the Problems with Garrett Higbee’s Soul Care Counseling | Wondering Eagle

  99. TS00: They deliberately cultivate this ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ persona (male or female), and only rarely, unintentionally, let this image slip. They are so good they even begin to fool themselves.

    A Rabbi from Tarsus called this “transforming himself to appear as an Angel of Light”.

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