Reflection of the Week - 9 November 2021

By Rev Anne Hewitt

Posted in Faith

Social Influencers are not a new phenomenon. Even Jesus outed ‘Influencers’ in his time, even the ‘teachers of the Law.’ There are people who have a positive influence in our community, and people whose influence causes distress, hurt, and even long-lasting grief.

Passive-aggressive, power-over, manipulative and denigrating people, still exist today within our churches, unfortunately. They may seek to lead worship, singing or prayers, or seek power through election to leadership, Church Council or as an Elder. They create a small band of supporters, being able to meet a person’s emotional need, to develop loyalty and ‘friendship.’ This is called grooming.

Then the ‘Influencer’ systematically takes advantage of those positions and relationships, to influence others to follow their lead through innuendo and persuasive means. Their subtle denigration and progressive demeaning of others through sly comments, non-inclusivity, re-storying truth to create a negative reality, or using another’s way of being, disability or incapacity, as a ‘funny story,’ a joke to cajole others to laugh with the Influencer at the victim’s expense. In today’s world, this is named as bullying, intimidation and harassment. At worst, it becomes mental, physical or sexual abuse. It is a destructive pattern that is often hard to identify before it exacerbates such devastating consequences on the victim (ill health, grief, damaged self-esteem, anxiety or victimisation).

Jesus identifies the negative ‘Influencers.’ Nowhere in our biblical teachings is there support for such behaviour. This is not the Way of Jesus, nor loving your neighbour.

Jesus calls us to follow God’s Way to bring influence through completely different ways of being and living. We, who have a wealth of good relationships need to give all of ourselves, to create the treasury of God’s just and peace-filled love.

Let us look to our Churches, our practices and our lack of naming these behaviours, our fear of confronting the bully because they are ‘Church people,’ or have power and influence; or we participate with the ‘Influencer’ and their subtle, destructive behaviour.

In celebrating All Saints Day (All Hallows/Halloween), and as we may have grieved on All Souls Day, we recall with joy those who have been shining lights of Christianity who have given all that they had in faith-filled lives, thus, our sorrowing is a mingling of the bittersweet.

© Rev Anne Hewitt 03/11/2021
Churches Together SA


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