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It's Time To Speak---Let Your Voice Be Loosed!

by Tiffany Wells

I come from a preacher’s family; PKs (preachers kids) is what we're called. My childhood was a pretty standard one. Yes, I was a regular in church, coming from such a family. Though I loved God tremendously, there were things that confused me about the church.

I learned early that my grandfather, a preacher and pastor, wasn't the loving, nurturing type. He was, and is, very matter-of fact. Things had to be his way or the highway. If you didn’t agree with him, then you were wrong or stupid. This treatment included scathing words, directed missiles being launched to attack our spirits, souls, and minds. If we tried to discuss our feelings or the hurt caused by his words, he would find a flaw within us in order to change the subject and deflect accountability away from himself; refusing to accept the damage and hurt caused by his words and actions, which were sharp and rarely missed the target. Not allowed to question him, he ruled with authoritarianism, intimidation, coercion, terrorism, manipulation, control, irrationality, condemnation, elitism, and secrecy. The verbal, mental, emotional, and spiritual attacks were just a regular part of relating with him, and I grew to accept it. Apparently, "honoring your father and mother" (Ex. 20:12) meant that he was allowed to say and do whatever he wanted, without any interference or acknowledgement of hurt that resulted. But the Word also says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them" (Ephesians 6:4) "or they will become discouraged" (Col. 3:21). It wasn’t until many years later that I would learn the verbal attacks were not from the man himself, but from the demons he battled, even in his own childhood and life. For within our own family tree, we battle spirits of abandonment/neglect, belittlement, Ahab, Jezebel, Pharaoh/Herod, sabotage, pride, anger/resentment, unforgiveness/bitterness, hypocrisy, gossip, false burdens, guilt/shame, rejection, perversion, sexual immorality, religious traditions, negativity, contaminated anointing, and repression/secrecy–just to name a few.

When I would tell someone his name, they would reply "Wow, just like the singer!", undoubtedly referencing the famous country music icon known as the "man in black". Or they would say, "Oh, you're Cash's granddaughter–okay!" beaming with admiration from the revelation. I didn’t fully understand the man in the pulpit–I knew he was a preacher and a pastor, but couldn't reconcile his sermons with his behavior at home toward us. For out of the same mouth came praise and cursing (Jam.3:9-10). To the rest of the world, he was a great pastor and mentor. But to me, he represented pride in its most brutal form; one that was unrepentant and hostile toward correction and reconciliation. I truly believe he cares, but doesn’t know how to show it.

Yet I learned that all words have weight–to edify and build up, or to tear down and destroy. I have since learned that we must be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" and that "human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires" (Jam. 1:19-20). For "everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken" (Matt. 12:36). Even "those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin" (Prov. 13:3).

It never occurred to me that what I experienced, and sometimes still experience from him, was abuse. It’s not talked about in the church, especially if the perpetrator is a leader or pastor.

In the article "But He Never Hit Me", Jenny Rae Armstrong lays out the most accurate definition of abuse that I could relate to. She explains that abuse is "not about an angry person losing their temper and lashing is a pattern of behaviors that people use to establish dominance in their's about having power and control over another human being”. In her book, The Rules of Engagement", Dr. Cindy Trimm defines abuse as "the mistreatment of someone or something" that makes someone feel "unhappy, anxious, afraid, humiliated, or devalued" (Page 65). Whether it is physical, emotional, mental, sexual, and/or spiritual, abuse harms a person’s self-esteem and self-worth, and often affects how a person connects with God. The way we see ourselves becomes warped and distorted, as we struggle to view ourselves the way God sees us and to accept His love without questioning His motives and promises. If the abuse is severe and consistent enough, it can do damage to our relationship with God; as we try to trust an unseen, but loving Father, all the while comparing Him to our seen, but not-so-loving relative.

Unfortunately, the abuse I've described is not at all uncommon among some in church leadership. It is not enough for a leader or pastor to be a good shepherd to their church flock, but also to their own personal flock at home. God gives clear instruction regarding how a leader is to behave in his/her own house before leading God's house–managing their family well, with children who respect and obey (not fear) them..."for how can they manage God's church if they cannot manage their own household?" (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Not just meeting the physical needs, but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs as well that are so often neglected. Pastors and other church leaders have a responsibility to lead a blameless life and not be quick-tempered, as well as to abhor all kinds of wrong, with good moral foundation, for God bought His church/sheep with His very own blood (Titus 1:6-7, Acts 20:28). Where there is abuse in leadership, it is not at all uncommon to find ungodly spirits of rebellion (Korah), seduction, shame, oppression, depression, jealousy, competition, witchcraft/divination, carnality, secrecy, gossip, sabotage, confusion, Balaam, Jezebel, Absalom, Samaria, Belial, fear/torment, idolatry, Pharaoh/Herod, fraud, and various addictions.

"Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm" is a scripture often misused and twisted by some in church leadership to avoid any accountability and to escape any reproach for their actions/words. In this manner, these ungodly leaders will oftentimes view their victims as “casualties of doing business, doing church, or just being myself", instead of seeing those wounded as the innocent sheep left in their bloody path.

Yet, God is perfectly clear regarding how He feels about His servants not properly caring for His children and having innocent blood on their hands. In Isaiah 29:13, the Lord says "these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me". "For they don't practice what they teach" and "many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 23:3, Matt. 7:22-23). God goes on to say "I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me...The Lord's light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive...For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds" (Jer. 16:17, Prov. 20:27, Matt. 16:27).

Leaders (pastors, apostles, evangelists, prophets, teachers, deacons, reverends, ministers, bishops, etc) are not above reproach, but are held to a higher standard of personal conduct and righteous living. The Word states in James 3:1 "for we who teach will be judged more strictly." Moreover, "false weights and unequal measures–the Lord detests double standards of every kind" (Prov. 20:10).

Sometimes we can get so caught up on fooling our family, friends, and congregants, we forget we must stand before a holy and righteous God, before whose eyes everything is laid bare. "For God does not show favoritism." (Romans 2:11). As ambassadors of Christ, we have the charge to “take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them" (Eph. 5:11).

As the "Man in Black", Johnny Cash, once sang:

"Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand,

Workin' in the dark against your fellow man,

But as sure as God made black and white,

What's done in the dark will be brought to the light."

"You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down,
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down."

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall... But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Prov. 16:18, Matt. 23:12). But there is hope if you are caught in fault–do not harden your hearts when you hear His voice (Hebrews 3:7). Confess to him who is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9); for if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves (1 John 1:8). Allow the Lord to "create a pure heart within you and renew the righteous spirit within" (Ps. 51:10-11). Cry out to God "do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me" (Ps. 51:11). "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:37-39). "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your God wants you to be...eager to serve...being examples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:1-3). Put an end to the behavior that does not reflect God’s character by renewing your heart and mind in Christ.

Real love is not about feelings, emotions, or what people can do for you; it is about seeking the highest good of others without conditions. It is patient, kind, not boastful or proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, and not easily angered (1 Cor. 13:1-7). And no, love is not about being a doormat–learn how to say "No!" in love and strength.

Understand that I do not stand in judgment of anyone, not even of myself–only God can truly judge a person. While I do believe that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rms. 3:23), I also believe that we all produce fruit that shows whether we are acting in God or not, and He expects us to inspect it often. God has given us the ability to measure the fruits planted by our words and deeds, as well as those of others. "For by their fruit, you will know them" (Matt. 7:16, 20). This means we are to take a look at the fruit produced, compare it with God’s Word, and make a determination as to whether the fruit (words and actions) came from God or Satan. For Galatians 5:19-23 clearly shows us the fruit of the enemy–"sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these", but the Fruit of God's Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Gala. 5:19-23). This measurement is not for condemnation, but for revision, correction, rebuking, and teaching, as well as for reconciliation–with God and others.

I wrote this article for two reasons. The first reason–God has been refining me by having me to look at myself, and I realized that I could never truly be free in God until I addressed the underlying issues that kept me in bondage, of which this is one. My future and destiny depend not only on God’s will and direction, but also on the releasing of the things that hinder God from flowing through me the way He desires to. This flow requires forgiveness and forgiveness cannot come without confession. So for every person that I've ever hurt or damaged in any way, through word and deed, I truly apologize and ask that God release me from your mind, spirit, and soul. The second reason is for the ones that suffered the way I did, and to let them know that they're not alone in dealing with and confronting abuse. The voice is for their benefit, not mine (John 12:30). For the Lord commands us to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed" (Prov. 31:8). Your silence and compliance cannot be bought.

Exposure does to the kingdom of darkness what kryptonite does to Superman. When you refuse to expose the acts of darkness committed against you, you’re giving the enemy permission to wage war against you from that damaged place in your soul. You become a willing accomplice with the enemy in maintaining your own bondage. And he is more than happy to do so, for he comes to steal, kill, and destroy as much as he is allowed–as much as you allow him to. Your soul is made up of 5 faculties (or functions)–your intellect, imagination, memory, will, and emotions. The kingdom of darkness seeks to infiltrate all 5 of them, in an effort to snatch your soul–You must root out the poison and purify all of them! The enemy thrives on anonymity and secrecy. And the quickest way to destroy the works of darkness is to confess and expose them to the Light of God, period! You may not have been able to speak up before, but you can now.

It is NOT your responsibility to maintain your abuser's credibility, reputation, image, or public persona, at the expense of your own soul. It IS your responsibility to be free in God and, if God Allows, to help free others in the process (Galatians 5:1). Jesus Christ died in order for us to have full freedom in God–did He die in vain? Many others have fought and died for us to have certain freedoms, especially freedom of speech–did they die in vain? "For you have been called to live in freedom" (Galatians 5:13).  

Author Reggie Weems states "confession is the trash can of your prayer life" in his book On Wings of Prayer. He goes on the say that "the remedy for the familial interference caused by unconfessed, cherished sin is the ongoing practice of repentance and confession". The word familial in this context refers to the demonic spirits that can track, sabotage, and torment a person because of unconfessed sin. I believe you must confess not only your sins, but also the sins committed against you that block your true flow of freedom.

Dr. Trimm gives a great confession to speak over yourself during prayer in "The Rules of Engagement", whereby you decree and declare Exodus 19:5 over your life–that you are God's treasured possession (Page 112). You can also research scriptures on the internet that assert and build your confidence in God, as you speak them over yourself. Psalm 139:13-14, Isaiah 43:4, Joshua 1:9, Jer. 29:11, 1 Peter 2:9, Phil. 4:13, Rms. 8:31-39, Matt. 10:31, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 46:5 & 10, 1 John 4:4, and 2 Tim. 1:7 are great ones.

During your prayer time, ask God as to whom He would have you to speak with regarding the abuse. Not everyone can handle these revelations, nor should they. Ask Him to direct your path to the appropriate channels for release and wait for His reply. The opportunity may show up right in front of you, but ask for His discernment to know when, where, how, and to whom revelation should be made. Do not be afraid to speak up for yourself–for God promises that"instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours" (Isaiah 61:7).

It's time to come out of the shadows of abuse, fear, shame, intimidation, secrecy, and manipulation–created by those that want you to stay crippled in silence. It's time to move away from being a victim in the darkest corner of your mind. As one of my sisters-in-Christ recently said on Facebook, "You will no longer be in the background–God is pulling you to the forefront." It's time to be bathed in God's glorious light and to deeply inhale the Breath of Life.

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven...A time to be quiet and a time to speak." (Ecc. 3: 1, 7). It’s time to speak–let your voice be loosed!

*All scripture references are from NIV and NLT translations.

For more information on effective spiritual warfare and how the kingdom of darkness works:

"The Rules of Engagement: The Art of Strategic Prayer and Spiritual Warfare" by Dr. Cindy Trimm

For more information on abuse by those in church leadership, you can Google these articles online:

"The Yeasts of the Pharisees: Spiritual Abuse by Pastors and Counselors" by Edward J. Cumella, Ph. D.

"Fourteen Symptoms of Toxic Church Leaders" by Thom Rainer

"But He Never Hit Me" by Jenny Rae Armstrong

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