Sunday, April 6, 2008

Despotism with Nepotism: A Recipe for Disaster

Nepotism is "favoritism granted to relatives or close friends, without regard to their merit. Nepotism usually takes the form of employing relatives or appointing them to high office." This arbitrary practice is seen in business as well as in church settings. It is particularly prevalent in Word of Faith circles. Somehow, the offspring of the pastor receives an "anointing" by genetic predisposition, regardless of whether they have a true call of God on their lives, or a heart for ministry. Or a heart at all.

Despotism is "a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)" In other words, the leader has total authority and answers to no one. This is also often seen in Word of Faith circles. The congregation is duped into thinking that the leadership is not only in control of their lives, but should be treated with great honor and deference. And, unfortunately, this dutiful and submissive behavior has to also be conveyed to the aforementioned offspring whether they deserve it or not. They are often placed in leadership positions when they have no ability to lead. They are placed in ministry positions when they have no heart for people. More qualified people are overlooked so that this son, daughter, spouse, or all of the above, can hold a position in the church and be on the church payroll.

Nepotism is bad enough medicine to swallow all on its own. But then when you add the unpalatable ingredient of despotic rule, that brings the distasteful situation to a whole new level. Not only do the congregation and staff members have this inept individual forced upon them, they cannot raise even the slightest complaint about them without guaranteed retribution from the leadership. Counseling is handled poorly, if even done at all, privacy is breached, church members and staff members are criticized behind closed doors, loyal staff members have insults hurled at them and are constantly being threatened that they will lose their jobs, money is handled in a questionable manner, and when people leave offended because of these situations, it is considered a good riddance. There are never any apologies for this behavior. As a matter of fact, often when people do complain, they are accused of being the one with the problem. It is a no win situation. If you have found yourself in a church where either or both of these are practiced, my advice to you is to find a new church. No matter how well accepted you think you are by the powers that be, and no matter how right you may be in whatever your situation is, overstep your bounds and you will be trampled on. For the sake of your spiritual and emotional health, if you see this going on in your church, get out before that happens to you.

- V