6 Signs of a Toxic ‘Apostle’

by | Mar 22, 2017 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

I’ve just spent two weeks in South America, where the Holy Spirit is moving in unprecedented ways. Churches are growing and average Christians are sharing their faith passionately. One recent Pew Research study showed that 1 in 5 Latin Americans now identifies as an evangelical Christian—and a majority of these are Pentecostals.

But this growth is not without problems. While there are certainly many healthy Christian movements in the region, other churches are suffering from a lack of trained leadership. And untrained, untested leaders often result in spiritual abuse, false doctrines and financial corruption.

I’ve become more concerned lately with leaders who declare themselves “apostles” when they have no business wearing that label. I believe true apostolic leadership is needed today, but a small army of imposters is threatening to damage the work of God. It is time to heed the apostle Paul, who warned of “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” who were “disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13).

Discerning the difference between a true and false apostle is not complicated. Since Scripture clearly tells us that Paul is our apostolic model (see 1 Cor. 4:16), we can use his surrendered life as our standard. Here are six signs that a man or woman who claims apostolic leadership is actually a dangerous influence in the church.

1. A toxic “apostle” requires the title. One popular television preacher in the United States typically sends a letter to his hosts before any preaching engagement and specifies that his name must be preceded by the “apostle” title. Compare that arrogant attitude with the humility of Paul, who referred to himself as the chief of sinners (see 1 Tim. 1:15). If a man requires people to elevate him to an elite status, you can be sure he has a serious character flaw.

2. A toxic “apostle” carries an aura of self-importance. In some churches I have visited in Africa, the “man of God” waits until after worship to enter the auditorium—and then he is followed by an entourage. Someone carries his Bible, another carries his handkerchief, someone else carries his water bottle and another brings his iPad. This spectacle is designed to impress people—but it is all just religious theater. It is an offense to God. You can be certain that a man with this much pride will soon fall.

3. A toxic “apostle” is inaccessible. One pastor I know in a Latin American country belongs to a network of churches ruled by powerful preacher. But when I asked my friend if he gets advice or mentoring from this leader, the answer was no. The “apostle” does not offer counsel, training or personal interaction of any kind to the leaders in his group. He simply steps into his pulpit to preach and then vanishes.

The apostle Paul’s style was totally the opposite. Rather than being aloof and impersonal, Paul spent time with those he was mentoring.  He told the Thessalonians: “So having great love toward you, we were willing to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you were dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). If an “apostle” cannot get on the same level with people and interact with them, he is in the wrong profession.

4. A toxic “apostle” dominates and controls people. The apostle Paul told Timothy that church leaders are required to be gentle and “not argumentative” (1 Tim. 3:3). Yet I have known so-called apostles who used their violent temper to manipulate and intimidate their followers. A man who is full of anger is unbroken and un-surrendered; God would never entrust an apostolic ministry to someone with that fatal flaw. The Lord will first drain out his anger and replace it with the sweetness of Jesus before letting him shepherd God’s people.

5. A toxic “apostle” refuses to work with churches outside his network. False apostles are insecure because of their lack of training, so they feel threatened by other leaders’ successes. They develop an atmosphere of elitism—and pretend that their doctrines and preaching styles are superior to everyone else’s. False apostles also demand strict loyalty to their churches and may even curse members who leave. True apostles are not controllers or elitists; they work to expand the kingdom of God, not just their own church or denomination.

6. A toxic “apostle” demands financial payment. I asked one friend in Latin America if his “apostle” offered him marriage counseling, encouragement or ministry training. He replied: “No, the only discussions we have are about the tithe I owe him.” How tragic that hard-working pastors are being ripped off by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

As we contend for true apostolic leadership in today’s church, let’s avoid the pitfalls of immaturity. We need character, humility and integrity as well as powerful anointing. Don’t follow the false apostles. {eoa}

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K previously, 230K expected). The headline unemployment rate dropped to...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

RECENT ARTICLES

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding...
God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking retrospectively at my past as an atheist, I can see where God...

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why speak with tongues? There are many reasons for speaking in a spiritual language. Primarily, though, the Scriptures require it. The apostle Paul commanded us, saying, “Pray in the Spirit always” (Eph. 6:18). Jude commanded it in verse 20, saying, “Pray in the Holy...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]