A ‘Sweet’ Gem

I have been reading ‘Sweet’, the novel by Tracy Ryan watcher the dvdrip watch bowfinger in divx

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about the relationships between a WA Baptist pastor in the 80’s and 3 female members of his congregation. Essentially it explores the rather subtle issue of codependence and how this develops between a pastor and congregation. I don’t know how wide an appeal this book will have, but for those of us in leadership roles it ought to be read and reflected on.

‘Cody’s’ journey has been of particular interest to me as she is a young Christian in the process of questioning her faith and wondering about its foundation. Her place of certainty is not Jesus or the scriptures, but William her pastor and she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that all is not a cut and dried as he would once have had her believe. Still his power is great…

Here’s an excerpt I found very challenging. After reflecting on Paul, the young man who drew Cody to faith, she goes on to think of William:

But with William it was the other way around, he had not attracted Cody to God. He had simply come to stand in the way of her notion of God. She had got caught up before she knew it, swayed to his way of seeing things somehow, like Patty Hearst, that syndrome where you form a dependence on your captor, your torturer. Was he really her captor? No-one forced her to be there. Doing what she would not do, and not doing what she would do, as it said in the book of Romans.

She thought of Jane Eyre wild wild west dvd download , which she had read at school. The chapter before Jane’s wedding, the wedding that fell apart:

He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not in those days, see God for His creature, of whom I had made an idol.

Is it just me or are those challenging words for those in local church leadership?

It makes me ask where is the line between protecting the sheep and abusing the sheep?

It causes me to wonder how much of my own needs to be needed and admired by those I lead get in the way of doing what’s best for both of us. As I read the novel I think William is (so far) quite oblivious to his controlling ways and personal needs. He doesn’t come across as a tyrant and yet his subtle exertion of control over these women is possibly even more destructive than if it were overt.

As a person who has led a larger church I have experienced the destructive side of the Jane Eyre quote as people have expected me to be someone I simply could never be and as I have used that influence to get things done. It is a strange and sometimes disturbing relationship that takes place between needy pastor and needy congregation member.

If I have learnt anything it is that those of us in leadership must be secure in our own identity if we are to risk leading others. Insecure leaders are the very worst as they make all sorts of demands stemming from their own need to be loved and valued and not from healthy motives.

I am pondering what makes a person secure rather than insecure. I was originally reflecting that it was a function of maturity – that as we get older we need the approval of others less – but that is not universally true…

Perhaps it has something to do with coming to grips with the greyness of the world and our frailty in making sense of it. William continues to see most issues in a strong shade of black or white and it is his undoing. I tend to think that as we get older we should be able to determine what issues are clear cut – and they get fewer as you get older – and which are grey, but maybe not all can do this.

I haven’t finished the book, but I imagine Cody will end up getting disillusioned with this brand of church and will leave. She will be guilt ridden for her ‘betrayal’, but will struggle on for the sake of integrity. She will become one of the ‘churchless faith’ Christians who still want to follow Jesus and who still believe, but who have not found a place to live a more questioning and reflective expression of discipleship.

6 thoughts on “A ‘Sweet’ Gem

  1. This book sounds really interesting. I’ve put it on order with my library so waiting for it to come in.

    I’ve got a situation at the moment where a person has a degree of infatuation with me. I’m trying my best to stop this and it’s causing a bit of stress at the moment.

    I know what you mean about being strong enough to stop the co-dependence thing and believe it’s a serious issue of character.

    I’m reading “The Missional Leader” by Roxborugh and Romanuk at present and they highlight the issue of character repeatedly.

  2. Great post Hamo..

    The power of position is a seductive one. Recently, a month after finishing my last ministry job, I found myself watching another church Minister at work. As I watch do him some good stuff I found myself caught up in very strong emotion for the loss of the position and power I had had to give up.

    I had never intentionally used my position for anything but the forces of Good (lol) but the loss of being person of influence produce a grief that was very powerful and very intense that it shocked me.

    Leadership is a subtle tight rope of responsibility and power. Lean one way and you will find yourself being used up. Lean the other

    and you will fall into areas of power and abuse.

    And when you come down from those heights it can give you very strange withdrawal symptoms…

  3. Good comment Big Dave.

    Hamo – who IS secure in their own identity?

    My own insecurities have never been more glaring than now, and as I look around me at the types of things that different people do in reaction to various circumstances, it would appear that I’m no orphan…

  4. Toddy – I think we grow in our degree of security. I know I am much more content being me today than i was 10 years ago.

    Totally secure – no – but at the same time i reckon I am less likley to play the games of the 20’s and 30’s.

    Can’t wait till I’m 50… 🙂

  5. This messes with my head on 2 levels;

    1) I think I work with some people who lead churches like this, how do I shine the light on their behavior and;

    2) I think too often I could be just like that in my insecurity.

    It is a good thing to read these things and try to hold up a mirror!

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