In hypnotherapy I learned about a concept called ‘one-upsmanship’. What this speaks to is the fact that when we see someone on a stage or on a platform we automatically accord them the credit of being better at something than we are.
This process begins with the set up of the room. The stage is always elevated and everything placed in such as a way as to convey a sense of authority from whoever is on said stage. One-upsmanship can be found also in the clothing that the speaker has chosen to wear (suit or unusual attire) as well as the words they chose to use (language unique to the occupation which most will not readily relate to): all to reinforce the point that they have knowledge and know how that the audience does not. This is needed in hypnosis so that the client will be receptive to the work being done by the hypnotist. Other than in this setting I think one-upsmanship is complete and utter bullshit. We think in our minds they must know more than we do otherwise they would not be up there in the first place. This line of thinking causes us to not be as critical towards leaders and speakers as we would otherwise be. This even causes us to silence our critical mind as we begin to force ourselves to believe what we’re being told by the people on the stage.
But let’s be honest here, until we have a chance to see the fruits these people bear we don’t really know if they are even called by God. We weren’t there when God supposedly called them. We also don’t know how preachers act and how they are when they’re not at church. Prosperity and success do not necessarily equal righteousness. The Bible says that evil people can give good gifts also so just because someone is nice doesn’t mean they are righteous either. I used to do this. I used to believe whatever a preacher said whether I agreed with it or not. Then I would force my mind into their way of thinking believing it was I who was wrong or had bad understanding. Now I question everything a preacher says and I encourage you to do the same as well. We really do ourselves a disservice by not fact checking really everything we hear before we make changes in our lives based on what we have heard.
Most preachers cannot separate their personal experiences from their message. Oftentimes in sermons preachers will say something like ‘I wasn’t raised that way’. I go to church expecting a divine message from God not a mashup of supposedly divinity and preachers’ personal upbringing. In the bible when God spoke it was his words and his alone. There is one occasion in the new testament where the apostle Paul switches from the voice of God to his own voice in the middle of a message but he informs of us this. (1 Corinthians 7) Preachers today primarily speak their own mind but try to sell their entire sermon to us as direct from Heaven. No one but Jesus has ever had a perfect ministry and so I have a reasonable expectation that not everything a preacher says is gonna be right all the time. The problem I have with preachers is that they are not right all the time but they try to act like they are. And sometimes I’ve heard preachers say things like “my thinking has evolved on this topic” or “I don’t preach this the way I used to.” So what is being said here is that they weren’t right in the first place about whatever was originally spoken. My concern then turns to effect this has on the people they gave what they are now saying is less than accurate information to in the past. I’ve never heard a preacher apologize for anything by the way. They don’t typically like to say they’re sorry. I believe pastors, preachers and church leaders of every sort are nothing more than an accessory to our faith. I get that when we start out on our spiritual journeys we need much guidance and these people certainly can serve that purpose. I think the ultimate goal is to get to a point where don’t need church leaders or rely on them so much as we mature in faith or as the bible puts it ‘we have need that no man teach us.’ (1 John 2:27) I also take note of the lack of transparency of a lot of preachers. What I see is plenty of sermons and books about how to fix this or gain that with only a few personal examples from the preacher who wrote the book but nothing too in-depth about them persnally and specifically. I don’t see a lot of raw and unadulterated memoirs from the people who have so much to say about what the rest of us should or should not be doing so let’s not give preachers more credit and trust than they deserve. I’m not saying anyone is wrong or that anyone is right. I am saying that you owe it to yourself to investigate and research what a ‘spiritual leader’ tells you especially if it is something you would be willing to alter your life over or draw a conclusion about someone else over. Please see the resources page for suggestions on how to get started on your own journey of independent Bible study.