One of the foundational motivations driving the charismatics centers around their ego. Because of this, they seek after things that make them feel powerful, authoritative, and prestigious. They have the tendency to see these things as fruit that is evidence of their good works or what they imagine to be the work of the Holy Spirit, as well as being evidence of God’s blessing, special anointing, or divine favor.
Some of the things that make the charismatic feel powerful, authoritative, and prestigious include:
1. Having excessive amounts of money, or at least, having the appearance of having excessive amounts of money.
● Included in this is success in business or career, and expensive or excessive possessions.
● It can also include having a spouse that looks as if they have excessive amounts of money.
● Important to Note: having a large amount of money, a successful business, or expensive possessions are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. What is wrong, however, is using these things as a measuring stick of God’s anointing or approval, or desiring and seeking after these things rather than desiring and seeking after God. It is a matter of the heart.
2. Having a large following of people who are mesmerized by them or their message.
3. Having imagined “words of God” that they then share with their fan-base.
4. Occult gifts and abilities, such as astral travel (they call this “traveling in the spirit”).
5. So-called supernatural works of God, that are actually either natural works of man, lying works, or false works.
7. Their imagined effectiveness at what they consider to be spiritual warfare.
Most of these things will be covered thoroughly in this book, but the main point in this section is to point out that all of us can fall prey to this, because by-and-large, humans are ego-driven. We are driven to do things and seek after things that make us feel good, and to do things and seek after things that are for our benefit. This isn’t always a bad thing; however, when the things we seek after do not line up with the Word of God, therein lies the problem. We should each constantly search our own hearts, asking ourselves what our true motivations are: is it to please ourselves, or is it to please our Father? The wiser thing to do, however, would be to ask our Heavenly Father to search our heart and to reveal to us our own motivations, because we can be blind to the intentions and desires of our heart, not always realizing they are coming from a place that is putting our own will above the will of our Father.
B. Leaders or Pastors?
One common attitude that has infiltrated the churches in general, and one that is deceptively simple and usually overlooked, is this attitude of “leaders” versus “pastors.” This is in no way speaking to pastors who are following the Biblical standards and specifications on how to lead, but this is speaking to those multitudes of men and women who are not following the Biblical examples and instructions on how to lead.
While it is true that pastors are to lead in a Biblical way, there is a definite ungodly and unbiblical attitude that has slowly but surely crept into churches. In many instances, much emphasis is placed on prosperity, gifts, spiritual experiences, and rules of men and women that vary from church to church depending upon the culture. The focus of many of these leaders seems to be more on learning “how to build a prosperous business and build a following,” than on shepherding a flock — protecting them and leading them into spiritually-safe places.
There is more emphasis placed upon “motivational speaking” (a “feel good” doctrine), but not a lot of correctly teaching the Word of God, warning of the dangers of not following His Word, encouraging people to build a relationship with God, and being a good example of Godly living.
So what is motivational speaking?
→ Motivational Speaking: the action or occupation of giving presentations intended to motivate or inspire the audience, frequently with the aim of raising morale or productivity in a workplace.1
While there is not anything inherently wrong with motivational speaking, solid Biblical teaching is lacking today in many churches and ministries. Instead, there is what Paul described in 2 Timothy as “itching ears, turning from the truth and turning unto myths.”
2 Timothy 4:2-4 (BSB)
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (emphasis added)
Itching ears: desirous of hearing something pleasant (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)2
Myth: an idle tale, fable, fanciful story.
● In the context of this verse, myths are referring to: the fictions of the Jewish theosophists and Gnostics, especially concerning the emanations and orders of the aeons (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).3, 4
There is often much “encouragement” in many churches today, but not much rebuking or reproof. And while motivational speaking can be pleasant to listen to, much of the “encouragement” within charismatic groups is actually encouraging people to continue in their sin and delusion that is leading them to destruction.
Furthermore, these church leaders learn and use motivational speaking skills to prey on the minds and emotions of the audience to get a desired response. They are manipulating the audience through that emotion, often done in an attempt to sell their products: books, CD’s, DVD’s, classes, entrance into special conferences, et cetera. This is also done as a way to “sell themselves” to the audience, so they can be more effective at spreading their message. In turn, this feeds their ego, as the bigger their fan-base the better they feel. It also has the tendency to grow their pocketbook as the people that are following them are buying not only the message coming from them, but their products as well. This, of course, is the desired result of such a leader, feeding their motivation to have not only power, authority, and prestige, but also satisfies their greed for money and material possessions.
So while we acknowledge that pastors are to lead, we would also like to point out that many of today’s modern, charismatic “leaders” are not pastors in any way, shape, or form. They have received their definition of “leadership” from worldly standards, and not from Biblical doctrine. They are leaders, and not pastors. They are building their earthly kingdom, and not working for the Kingdom of the true God. They are, in fact, allowing wolves into the flock who teach doctrines of demons, leading people into destruction.
Moreover, because of this worldly standard of “leadership” invading the churches, men and women are all too eager to follow a human leader, rather than follow Jesus Christ. There is an alarming tendency to look to the “leader” to tell them what the Bible says and what it means. There is also an inclination to idolize leaders, and when we see they are going astray from sound Biblical doctrine, there is fear of even questioning them, much less rebuking or correcting. Phrases and words found in Scripture — such as “touch not God’s anointed,” and “obey them that have the rule over you,” and “submit” — are twisted to manipulate and browbeat people into not questioning or coming against false doctrines or teachings, for fear of not only human retribution, but of the wrath of God.
This attitude is wrong. It is unbiblical.
Paul Fahy, in his essay titled, “Apostles first or first apostles?” writes:
“A final thought, that I have expounded many times before, hierarchical leadership systems focusing upon a single dominating figure is actually a demonic system. It originated in the ranks of fallen angels that submit to Satan and has been worked out in human history in multiple spheres: military command and structure; commercial corporations; national governments; absolute monarchies and many other systems.
“The church is categorically intended to be the opposite of such systems (‘the first shall be last’, leaders are ‘servants of all’). When we see churches ruled by a hierarchy dominated by an individual (whatever his title) then we see a failure to obey God and submission to the enemy. It is a demonic system of government.”5
We wholeheartedly agree with Fahy’s assessment, and urge people to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and to not blindly and unbiblically follow man or woman. Jesus said to follow Him, not men. Even the Apostle Paul urged his “followers” (people he was discipling and teaching) to follow Jesus Christ, and to imitate him (Paul), with the important stipulation added: “as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) This is the proper, well-balanced, Biblical way. Let us use the Godly, Biblical standards of pastoring and being pastored; of leading and following. Not worldly standards of following and leading.