Why do some religious leaders misuse power?

TOPICS: Why leaders misuse power – the dualistic mind finds it difficult to handle power – followers of spiritual organizations are often passive followers, so it follows that leaders are doers – no lukewarm disciples of Christ – being zealous is not the same as being a disciple of Christ – working for a false cause – when an unbalanced person becomes a leader – all-or-nothing approach to leadership – it is of epic importance to get your way – if you are against me, you are against God – finding the Middle Way – never accept that you have absolute power – God has respect for free will –

Question from Kim: Jesus, I have met many people, especially Catholics, who are dismayed and disappointed by what they see as misuse of power or corruption in church leadership or in organized religion in general. 

It seems to me that there is an inherent danger in the leadership of any religious organization that easily leads to abuse of power. I especially see these problems:

  • Some religious leaders seem to feel that they are above and beyond the members of their church.
  • Some leaders seem to expect blind obedience from those below them in rank, tolerating no dissents or even questioning.
  • Some leaders believe they speak for God and therefore they must be infallible.
  • Some leaders tend to become very rigid, almost fanatical, in their approach to religion or to having power. They cling to certain interpretations of scripture and refuse to look at any ideas that go beyond their beliefs.
  • Some leaders attempt to use fear to force their followers into submission to church hierarchy or blind acceptance of church doctrines.

What is your view of leadership in modern churches?

Answer from ascended master Jesus through Kim Michaels:

Obviously, the members of many churches, both Christian and non-Christian, have been exposed to misuses of power by their leaders. I have no desire to ignore or deny a fact which can be clearly observed by any objective person.

However, I would like to step back from the issue so that we, instead of focusing on the leaders of a particular church, look at the challenges faced by leaders of any religious or spiritual organization. By gaining a greater understanding of the psychological mechanisms that relate specifically to church leadership, we might help people gain a different perspective. Misuse of power occurs in almost every religious organization, and it is important to understand why.

In the material universe everything is at two-edged sword. There is nothing we, meaning the spiritual teachers of humankind, can say or do which the dualistic mind cannot misinterpret and misuse. This especially applies to giving people power.

Let us begin by acknowledging that the majority of people on earth are somewhat lukewarm when it comes to religion. They are sitting on the fence, not willing to take responsibility for their own lives, much less for the salvation of the entire planet. So the people who are attracted to religious organizations, and especially those who are willing to take on the responsibility of leadership, are people who are not lukewarm. They are zealous people, they are doers and some of them are leaders instead of followers.

Now, you will recall that I said it was better to be hot or cold than to be lukewarm. With that I meant that there is no such thing as a lukewarm disciple of Christ. Obviously, there are lukewarm people who think that because they belong to a particular church they are acting as disciples of Christ. Yet this is an illusion.

To be a true disciple of Christ, you have to be on fire for doing something that reaches beyond your own self-interest. The distinction that needs to be made here is that being zealous is not the same as being a true disciple of Christ.

A true disciple is on fire for a cause, but pursues that cause in a balanced manner. A true disciple avoids the extremes, the black-and-white perspectives, that spring from the relativity and duality of the dualistic mind. Such a disciple diligently pursues the balanced perspective, the middle way, of the Christ consciousness.

What I am trying to explain is that the type of people who are attracted to leadership positions in a religious organization are those who are either hot or cold. What does it mean to be hot or cold? Both types of people are zealous and willing to work for a cause. A hot person has found some measure of balance, whereas a cold person has not (yet) attained this balance. Therefore, a cold person tends to take a black-and-white approach to life and religion. This causes some cold people to work for a true cause, while others work for a false cause.

A perfect example was Paul, who was highly zealous, yet was working against me. The saving grace of a cold person is that because he or she is moving, it is possible for a spiritual teacher to redirect the person’s zeal towards a worthy cause. This is what happened to Paul.

Yet working for a true cause does not necessarily mean that the person has made real spiritual progress. It only means that the person is no longer making the karma of working for an unworthy cause. In other words, a person can be zealously working in a church and still be unbalanced and follow the way that seems right unto a man. It is an unpopular fact that a person might fulfill all of the outer requirements for being a disciple, while still being an anti-disciple. The real challenge for such a person is to let go of the unbalanced approach, attain balance and thereby step on to the inner path. Paul never quite attained this balance, although he did make great strides.

In most religious organizations, you find a mixture of both unbalanced and balanced leaders. We now need to consider what happens when an unbalanced person attains a leadership position in a religious organization.

As I said, few people are attracted to such positions unless they feel it is important to work for God’s purposes. Therefore, almost all such people will feel a sense of importance, even ultimate importance, because they truly believe they are working for God’s will and God’s purposes. They also believe that doing so is more important than doing any worldly task. This in itself is not wrong. However, when an unbalanced person embraces this world view and attains power in a religious organization, you have the possibility for misuse of power.

Because the unbalanced person does not understand the need to reach for the middle way of the Christ consciousness and does not have discernment to see that middle way, the unbalanced person will often adopt a black-and-white perspective. The person embraces a certain doctrine or paradigm as being an absolute or infallible truth.

This causes the person to believe that any ideas that seem to contradict or go beyond the person’s world view are wrong in an absolute sense. In other words, the person begins to believe that he or she is engaged in an absolute battle between good and evil and that the distinction between good and evil can be defined in terms of black and white. Unfortunately, because of the unbalanced state, the person defines the distinction between good and evil based on the dualistic mind.

The person then begins to believe it is of epic importance that he or she imposes the “only” truth upon the organization and the members of that organization. This can lead to a, sometimes subtle and unrecognized, belief that the person is now a representative of or a spokesman for God or the ascended masters. In other words, the person will feel that if you speak out against his “absolute” truth, you are speaking out against God, and therefore it is necessary and justified that the leader imposes his or her will over yours. In extreme cases, this can lead people to feel that almost any means are justified to uphold what they have come to see as the only true standard of God. My crucifixion and the Inquisition being obvious examples.

What actually happens in this process is that such unbalanced leaders begin to feel that because their cause is of absolute importance, it is both necessary and justified that they attempt to assume a position of absolute power. In other words, they begin to believe that because they are working for God and working for the only true cause, they should have absolute power. They think they have the absolute backing of God for everything they do.

It has been stated that all power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is much truth to this statement. It is very difficult for a human being to be in a position of absolute power, whether this is real power or perceived power, without letting it go to one’s head and then exercising it in an unbalanced manner. The only way to avoid being corrupted by absolute power is to be completely centered in the middle way of the Christ consciousness.

Any person who is not centered in the middle way, whether it be because of psychological imbalances, incomplete beliefs or past-life momentums, will inevitably swing towards the extremes and therefore misuse power to some degree. This is simply an inevitable consequence of allowing oneself to feel that one is in a position of absolute power.

Therefore, a Christed being will not allow oneself to feel that one is in such a position. One will realize that only God and the will of God has absolute power and that even God bows to the free will of human beings. One might say that although God has absolute power, he is not exercising that power because he has given people free will. Therefore, no leader can rightfully claim to have the backing of God and at the same time show disrespect for people’s free will.

Do you see the subtle, yet all-important distinction here? If you truly have the backing of God, you will show the same uncompromising respect for the free will of your fellow disciples that we of the ascended masters show for all people. There is no middle ground here. You are either on the middle way of the Christ or you are in one of the many extremes defined by the dualistic mind.

Kim: So what can people do to get out of the imbalanced state and attain balance?

Jesus: With all thy getting, get understanding. You cannot solve a problem until you recognize that there is a problem and begin to understand what causes the problem. So people must begin by recognizing that an unbalanced use of power is a problem that needs to be dealt with if they are serious about their personal salvation. You cannot take these imbalances with you to heaven. They simply will not be tolerated in this realm.

To avoid falling into the trap of becoming an unbalanced, one might say fanatical, religious person, it is necessary to take assertive action. I have given several spiritual tools on the toolbox website LINK that will help anyone overcome religious fanaticism.

I recommend the teaching on how to free yourself from the spiritual poisons. That teaching also has references to other tools.


 Copyright © 2009 by Kim Michaels