A primary sign of toxicity

By Dave Henning / May 7, 2023

“[Jesus] spoke the truth and respected people’s choices. . . .  controlling others is a primary sign of toxicity, not a method for ministry.  Jesus never cheapened the beauty of what he was saying by appearing desperate.  In fact, he pretty much took the opposite approach: this is what’s true; take it or leave it.  That confidence built the early church.”- Gary Thomas, When to Walk Away

[Jesus] replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.  Leave them, they are blind guides.  If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”- Matthew 15:13-14 (NIV)

Lysa TerKeurst concludes Chapter 10 of Good Boundaries and Goodbyes with this observation.  That sometimes, in order for something good to happen, goodbyes must happen first.  In addition, while some goodbyes are for a season, some are forever.

In Acts 15:36-41 (NKJV), Paul and Barnabas had a ‘sharp contention’ about taking John Mark as a helper for their next missionary journey.  A judgment call, not a doctrinal issue.  Applying this to Christians today, Wayne Jackson states that when good brethren disagree in matters of opinion, the focus must remain on doing the will of Christ.

Most significantly, Lysa observes, some people appear to say the right things.  However, their actions betray their words.  And if we fail to end such a relationship, we potentially run the risk of falling into a pit with them.  Therefore, Lysa strongly proclaims:

“I don’t want to be a pit dweller.  I want to walk in the light.  And I want my heart, mind, and words to reflect my devotion to God.  I will not bow down to someone’s mistreatment, but I also will not rise up with such angst and anger that I violate God’s truth in the way I exit.  I’d like a little more ‘God be with you’ in my goodbyes.”

Today’s question: Where do you notice controlling as a primary sign of toxicity in ministry?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Breaking point – wait or establish?

About the author

Dave Henning

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