In the last 10 years, we’ve watched the rise and fall of several famous evangelical preachers. But Michael Kruger, president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, says the problem is bigger than even the investigative reports would suggest. He argues that many more cases of spiritual abuse will never be covered in the podcasts.

And he contends a big part of the problem is . . . you and me.

“We would rather have a leader who will beat up our enemies than one who will tenderly care for the sheep,” Kruger writes in his new book, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church. He continues, “It’s not that different from the person who decides to buy a pit bull as a family pet. It may be cool to have a tough dog, and it may protect you from burglars. But eventually it may maul a member of your own family.”

Spiritual abuse is a relatively new and amorphous concept. Kruger defines it this way: “Spiritual abuse is when a spiritual leader—such as a pastor, elder, or head of a Christian organization—wields his position of spiritual authority in such a way that he manipulates, domineers, bullies, and intimidates those under him as a means of maintaining his own power and control, even if he is convinced he is seeking biblical and kingdom-related goals.”

It’s the opposite of Jesus and his paradoxical ministry model. He didn’t lead by demanding his rights but by giving them up. Mike joined me on Gospelbound to discuss how to train pastors who won’t abuse their flocks, why he focuses on Reformed churches, whether he’s changed his own leadership, and more.