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Sixteen Marks Of A Shame-Based Ministry

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 82

1. You are isolated, afraid and critical of others, especially other authority figures (e.g. pastors, denominational executives, doctors, et al.). You are unable to delegate both tasks and responsibilities to others because they can't be trusted. You tend to distrust the well-intentioned, competent support of others including those in denominational hierarchy and well-meaning, genuinely supportive leaders.

2. Your ministry is driven by a need for approval. In the pursuit of others' approval, you may have lost your own identity and uniqueness as God's valued, called servant. Your insatiable need for approval often makes it difficult to be faithful to do what is right in the exercise of your God-given calling.

3. You are hyper-sensitive to criticism. You are driven to avoid the criticism in any way and at all costs. When criticized you a) discredit and/or attack the source of criticism, b) become passive, fearful and accommodating to avoid any criticism, c) become aloof and safely distanced from others, or d) become an autocratic perfectionist compulsively driven to control everything and everyone which may potentially criticize you.

4. You associate with other compulsive personalities, such as workaholics, perfectionists, the compulsively dependent, et al., to fulfill your security and self-esteem needs.

5.  You are addicted to excitement in any form and from any source. These sources may be either toxic, immoral, socially acceptable, or based in noble religious causes. They may even appear Christian.  The more the addiction-driven excitement propels you, the more vulnerable you become to failure and discouragement when control over outcomes is lost.

6. You have a preference for relationships which "need" your help. You receive the greatest joy from these relationships. In fact, you may have too much fun and fulfillment from these relationships to be healthy.

7. You have an over-developed sense of responsibility for others. Since it is easier to deal with other's problems, being overly-responsible for others diverts you from your responsibility to deal with your own shame-based issues.

8. You tend to think you are "loving" people when you are really "pitying" and "rescuing" them. This "love" is not the agape love described in Scripture (cf. I Corinthians 13, et al.). Instead, it is a manipulative, indirect, and self-serving form of control which hinders genuine expressions of love.

9. You get guilt feelings whenever you stand up for yourself. The only way you know of to relieve the guilt is to "give in" so others will "like" you. You compromise too quickly in conflict. You find it difficult to persist in maintaining a long-term vision for ministry and enduring the inevitable conflicts which arise when exercising God-pleasing leadership.

10. You live your life and your ministry from the viewpoint of being a "victim." You believe you are the victim because of what others have done to you. You "target" those who ruin your life and make you feel victimized. You deny that you are really the major cause of your own feelings of victimization and you have the God-given ability to overcome these feelings.. 

11.  When you think you've failed or not gotten something absolutely perfect, you mercilessly berate yourself. You consider yourself a failure. You believe others think you're a failure, too. Anyone could have done it better than you.

12. You have "stuffed" your feelings behind a professional facade. You have done this for so long that you have lost the ability to feel or express your feelings.

13. You are an emotional island. You do not have and do not seek close, confidential relationships appropriate for your ministry and personal support. You have learned from those who were never emotionally there for you to be emotionally detached distanced from others.

14. You are a dependent personality. You need to have people around you. You are terrified of abandonment and rejection. You will do anything to hold onto any relationship and the approval it brings and avoid repeating feelings of abandonment. You to "bend over backwards" for others. You routinely violate your own personal and professional boundaries--and other's--to help. By going to helpful extremes, you believe you can earn others' approval.

15. Your weak boundaries make you susceptible to the toxic projections of other shame-based or controlling individuals. The more you are with them, you take on their unhealthy and negative characteristics, attitudes, values and behaviors.

16. You are largely reactive, not pro-active. You will consistently do whatever is necessary to avoid rocking the boat and tenaciously clinging to the least threatening status quo. You avoid important decisions, avoid stating your position when possible, flip-flop in your stated positions, deny your previously-stated positions and, in general, maintain the appearance of busy-ness and confidence.

Thomas F. Fischer
 
For further insights, see Ministry Health Article 204,
Characteristics Of A Shame-Based Ministry.

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:01 PM