Monday Jan 23, 2023

A Pastor’s Advice for Dealing with Destructive Relationships

In this episode Pastor Brad Hambrick and Leslie will tackle some tough topics:


Why do you think the church is making the same mistakes over and over again?  
Why is it so hard to believe the victim? “Innocent until proven guilty” is cultural, but, when applied to a person telling their story we too often look at it as “liar until proven truthful.” 
Is it wrong to let the legal system, CPS and other authorities, into matters involving church families? 
Is the institution of marriage more important than the individuals in the marriage? 

Key Takeaways

When there is an abuse-related accusation toward a leader, the first call is too often made to a lawyer or an insurance company. That’s important but these are not the only voices to have in the situation. 


Go to your pastor but don’t turn your brain off. You are to steward your mental and emotional health. Sometimes a pastor is so focused on saving your marriage he/she isn’t seeing anything else.


Anytime you’re consulting with anyone who is an expert in anything, value their input but don’t be mindless. It’s okay to say, “I don’t think that’s the best advice for me,” whether you say it out loud or just to yourself. 


For pastors: When it feels “messy,” don’t make an edict … at that point you need to be in a supportive position. You need to ask for the type of cooperation from the unsafe individual that would make it a safe environment … and if they won’t, that tells you something. If they start bashing you and/or the church, you’re getting just a small taste of what the spouse is experiencing in the privacy of their home. 


Sometimes abuse is manipulative and coercive. What are some of the red flags and remedies a pastor can do? 


When it comes to the subject of abuse…especially non-criminal abuse…the church needs a “category” to deal with those. Matthew 7:1-6. Most pastors think verses 1-5. 

Proverbs 19:11 … sometimes it’s good to overlook an offense. But if the offense keeps happening it needs to be addressed. Verses 3-5 doesn’t contradict verses 1-2. It’s different but it’s addressing a higher level concern. Jesus says you don’t just keep overlooking … that’s being “devoured.” Verse 6 is the continuation of 1-5. If you’re in a chronically destructive situation, you don’t have to keep being abused. 


The Bible doesn’t treat all conflict as if it's the same. Pastors need to understand how to nuance and ensure safety. Maybe they aren’t in a Matthew 7:3-5 situation but it’s a Matthew 7:6 situation: “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” Many women keep sharing their feelings and it’s turned on them. Sharing emotions is not always safe. It can become a lightning rod for attack.  

How do you discern when a heart change has taken place?

Ephesians 4 gives us a really good paradigm. Abusive individuals typically have pride and impatience. 

The opposite of pride is humility. When we’re humble we ask good questions. We really want to understand instead of just being understood and getting our way. The defensive attitude goes away and is replaced with listening. 

The opposite of impatience is patience. We don’t put a timetable on getting back to normal. Moving back in, etc. Can they hear? Are they wanting to learn? Or are they more focused on getting what they want and being in control of the situation? 

Maybe there isn’t something illegal happening but they aren’t cooperating. They need to understand they are still being relationally destructive. Are they going through the motions for their own comfort or because they are truly repentant? Are they giving the spouse time to feel safe again? 


You cannot rebuild a relationship without the foundations of safety and trust. And when those have been broken they have to be repaired. Asking for reconciliation without that is asking her to lie and pretend. That is against her very biology. She must feel safe and be able to trust…especially in marriage. 


There is a time period to heal, whether it’s physical, emotional, or relational. Don’t rush the healing period. 

Pastors don’t have to be experts about everything. Lean on those who are experts in matters of abuse.


Brad Hambrick’s books: 

Brad Hambrick’s website: \

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