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Being loved or being managed?

Learning to recognize the difference between manipulation and affection is an important tool to recognizing the church Jesus is building in the world? How are you learning to sniff out the difference between being loved and being managed?

We had a church that managed us. At first, I thought we were just trying to be patient and get to know them. Show them we really cared and could be trusted. Never fear, we’d be there for them. But it was never enough. Whatever we did, they wanted more. Jump through hoops - no end to it. They’d just raise the hoops higher. I did not regret leaving there. . . . . . . Not until very recently did I realize how much a church actually manages its members. I know the leadership thinks they are providing for everyone’s needs; they mean well. But I started looking at their websites from the viewpoint of the person in the pew, not the pastorate. I’m just not interested in people deciding where I fit and what I need. I don’t want to be assigned to a box. I don’t care to be told what I need to study no matter how comprehensive the curriculum. Can’t say that it’s all overt manipulation, but I sure haven’t experienced much in the way of affection at “church.” Just from a very few. I would like to be heard, and I do not care to be averaged into the mass of the congregation - if that makes any sense. Don’t ask me what I DO want right now. But I’m figuring out what I sure DON’T want. There is so much about “church” that promotes mediocrity. I think genuine affection help people bloom!!!


This is a rather easy one for me, being a manager myself.

I think of the things I do as manager: I give people tasks, I make sure they have the tools/abilities to perform the tasks, I make sure they stay on task, I correct/discipline if they are not on task. And the only thing that brings us together, is that the relationship is fiduciary. Otherwise I would probably have little to no dealings with them.

So it follows that loving someone involves a lot of letting go. And each person must want to be in the relationship for love to occur. It cannot be forced. Sometimes the painful decision is made to let someone go their own way, but unlike a ‘firing’ in the corporate sense, you continue to love the person. And if the person returns, you throw them a party, just like in the story of the Prodigal.

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Seems churches forget that Jesus is the great physician. A service should be more of a celebration than a curriculum to follow. Let Jesus carry the load. And let us get on with the business of enjoying our salvation.


There is a small hand full of ways I have learned to tell the difference between the different perspectives people are coming from, whether it’s about love or managing people.

(1) Do they talk about getting you to do things that are all based on self-effort, and religious obligation?

(2) Do the things they talk about bring guilt, bondage, or condemnation toward you or other people?

(3) Do they act as lords over others?

(4) Do their actions and words match up with the kind of love displayed in 1 Corinthians 13 or are they leaning in that direction to any extenet?

So, in my opinion, most of it has to do with (1) God’s love, (2) living by faith, and (3) if people are lording it over others (to quote from chapter 10).

The truth of the matter usually becomes very obvious very quickly…

Bailey, NC

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