What if there were some sort of spiritual abuse safeguard? Would you want it? How about a superpower that would set off a dashboard indicator that warned you when a system or leader was mishandling power? If so, I’d love to introduce you to the work of Dr. Diane Langberg.
4 years ago, in the aftermath of a painful church situation, I stumbled across a video from Dr. Langberg. I wrote about it here. To make a long story short, we were attempting to make sense of one thing and realized it was another. The idea that narcissism could not only infect an individual, but also a system, was life-changing.
I’ve been collecting books related to the subject for 3 years. I snapped a photo of my book pile and sent it to a group of my friends. My friend, Lauren sent a text back: “Ah, I see you have the Recovering From Abuse starter pack.”
If that were an actual thing, and it should be, it would include Dr. Langberg’s new book Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church.
Dr. Langberg shares what healthy, Biblical power looks like. She pulls from her experience with trauma victims all over the world. In so doing, we benefit from her wisdom- wisdom that comes from being formed by a long journey of being discipled by Biblical principles of power. Finally, she reminds the reader of what the Good Shepherd looks like. I closed the book more grateful for Jesus. I think you will too.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“When we hear Scriptural words about building up the church for the glory of God, the work sounds heavenly. But when the building materials are arrogance, coercion, and aggression, the outcome is hideous.”
“We don’t believe that the powerful leaders we admire could possibly abuse their power. We don’t want to see because if we see, we must either act or carry the guilt of not having done so.”
“Your value as a shepherd depends on your life as a lamb, a weak, foolish lamb, utterly dependent on the Good Shepherd.”
In 2016, when I first discovered Dr. Langberg’s work, I was sure God brought it at just the right time to help us through that painful time. What I didn’t know in 2016 was that this would be a tool we would use to separate truth from lies several years later.
It changed everything.
You probably think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. We were seeing rotten things and we couldn’t, in good conscience, pretend not to. 3 years of learning Biblical truth about power abuse and how it can even manifest in systems and individuals claiming Christ’s name prepared us. “. . . if we see, we must act or carry the guilt of not having done so.”
It has been painful, but we have no regrets.
I wish we didn’t need a book about power abuse in Christendom. I wish we didn’t need to be reminded that we should care more about character than we do about giftedness. Since we do, this book is a great resource.
“May we live in dark places, shining the light of Christ on the abuses around us, even when they are in our own circles.”– Diane Langberg