Posts Tagged ‘mobbing a pastor’

While browsing through various tweets on Twitter two days ago, I ran across a three-month-old blog post on the topic of pastors and suicide from Brian Dodd.  Here is his article in full: http://briandoddonleadership.com/2013/04/10/pastors-and-suicide/

Dodd states that the pastoral profession has one of the top three suicide rates of any profession, along with doctors and attorneys.

The author had a pastor friend who took his own life, leaving behind a wife, two children, and three grandchildren.  The deceased pastor’s suicide note had been posted for a brief time on Facebook.

Then Dodd said this:

As Christians, many of us should be embarrassed at how we treat pastors, church staff, and their families!!!! Embarrassed!!!  These people pray for us daily, go to God on our behalf, study for years to get better equipped to serve us, live in glass houses, sacrifice more than we will ever know, each week feed us God’s Word, and tell us what Jesus thinks about the issues of our life.  And we have the unmitigated gall to question their communication skills, insights, biblical knowledge, and leadership skills.”

Here’s the coup de grace:

“If you are someone who is always hassling your pastor, talking bad about him/her, listening to people’s ‘prayer concerns,’ or leading the charge to have them removed, please do us all a favor and just stop.  It’s acceptable to address issues, just not in a way that demeans people.  And if you can’t do that, do us all a favor and just leave the church … NOW!!!”

My sentiments exactly.

Dodd’s article led me to another one by Steve Vensel on the phenomenon called “mobbing.”  Vensel has been a practicing counselor for 30 years.  Steve Brown – a wonderful preacher and writer – was Vensel’s pastor for many years.  Vensel eventually earned a PhD from Florida Atlantic University by writing about the issue of mobbing.  Here’s his initial blog post on this topic: http://www.poopedpastors.com/blogs/mobbing/

The following are my questions followed by Vensel’s answers:

What is mobbing?

Mobbing is defined “as the prolonged malicious harassment of a coworker by a group of other members of an organization to secure the removal from the organization of the one who is targeted.”

What does mobbing involve?

“Mobbing involves a small group of people and results in the humiliation, devaluation, discrediting, degradation, loss of reputation and the removal of the target through termination, extended medical leave or quitting.”

What happens after a person experiences mobbing?

“It is a traumatizing experience that often results in significant financial, career, health, emotional and social loss.  Mobbing is unjust, unfair and undeserved.  In a church setting the organization includes staff members, elders, deacons, and congregation members.”

How do these people act before mobbing begins?

“The pastor is rarely confronted by individuals seeking to solve an actual problem or there may be a bullying attempt to control the pastor.  The mobbing begins as others are pulled in and persuaded that the target is the problem.  In churches there is rarely, if ever, a chance for the pastor to face his accusers because of the ‘people are saying’ syndrome and ‘they’ don’t want to cause problems!

How do pastors respond to mobbing?

“Mobbing is progressive and eventually the targeted pastor is so confused by the unfairness of it, and so in shock by the brutality of it, they simply don’t know what to do. . . . pastors are often told not to talk to anyone or they will split the church and that would not honor Christ.”

What is the impact of mobbing on pastors?  (For me, this is the most thought-provoking statement in the article.)

“The personal impact includes deep humiliation, anger, anxiety, fear, depression, and isolation.  There is often a profound sense of shame (guilt is ‘I’ve done something bad,’ shame is ‘I am something bad’) that works to redefine all previous accomplishments as meaningless and all future hopes as dashed.  In short, mobbing often convinces the target that they are failures and always will be.”

Did you catch that?  Mobbing “works to redefine all previous accomplishments as meaningless and all future hopes as dashed.”  This means that after a mobbing, the typical pastor cannot identify any ministry successes in his past and cannot envision any ministry success in his future.

Vensel goes on:

“While a mobbing is taking place the pastor and his family do not know who they can trust or who they can talk to.  Fearing further reprisals they remain silent, deepening their isolation, and become either depressed or physically ill.  It is a vicious cycle that, because of the shame attached to it, doesn’t end when they leave the church.”

I have never received a satisfactory answer to the following two questions:

How can professing Christians act this way toward someone called by God?

And how can professing Christians allow mobbing to occur in their own church?

I went through this experience nearly four years ago, and its effects are ever with me.  I wrote a book to help me work through what happened, but most pastors don’t have that luxury.

I’m going to try and learn more about mobbing a pastor, and when I do, I’ll pass on my findings to you.

What are your thoughts on mobbing a pastor?

Check out our website at www.restoringkingdombuilders.org  You’ll find Jim’s story, recommended resources on conflict, and a forum where you can ask questions about conflict situations in your church.


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