Think For Yourself

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

To Think Requires Courage

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

Complicity is a problem that extends to many religious and political ideologies. Often in politics and religion, a mob mentality is often easier to listen to. When you’re faced with a mob of hostile onlookers, it’s easier to join them than to allow the moral dilemmas of the historical and current times press against the conscience.

Individuals become easily complacent by allowing a group to think for them, and not taking the hard road of freedom of thought and moral action. People must be greatly courageous to think for themselves, both morally and socially, because social ostracism is as prominent now as it ever was. In the history of the Holocaust, thinking for oneself meant the possibility of one’s own life being taken by the SS soldiers. Therefore, to think creates a problem for the individual and for the society. Sometimes, we may disapprove of or doubt what an entire group is thinking and in doing so, may be “attacked” by the mob.

But to go along with the mob as a “just a bystander” creates an even greater problem. Going along with the mob paves the way to some of the lowest points of humanity. The mob mentality was what caused an unthinkable horror such as the Holocaust and mass extermination of an entire culture. Although an extreme example, it’s one I can not forget. The Nazi mentality when they were tried was, “I was just following orders.” The Nazi soldiers who killed innocent men, women and children were “just doing what they were told.” In essence, they weren’t thinking for themselves. They didn’t take responsibility for their own actions.

To think for oneself is one of the most courageous acts a human being can embrace, and because the majority of the world chose to stand by silently, the world has lost millions of precious lives and, for a time, lost their courage.

12 thoughts on “Think For Yourself”

  1. I like this topic. 🙂

    As pertaining to cults &/or abusive religious groups this can be very, very challenging. When a member has to risk hell in order to think about teachings, let alone openly challenging them, these actions require the utmost in courage and/or soul searching IMO. Very few things in life can be as difficult as deciding where our loyalties lie, especially when facing the prospect of going against the grain at our own risk.

    Then you throw into the mix all those who know that portraying themselves as heroes or prophets is key to having the money flow in makes things even more potentially complicated. These folks IMO can excel in plagiarism and manipulation of public opinion, not to mention being willing to use any pretense to make the ones who hold faith in their clear conscience as heretics or such.

    Then you throw into the mix all the puffed up rookie blowhards who think that by quoting a few scriptures louder than the competition makes them spiritual. This category, interestly enough IMO is ripe with sincere people who think they are doing well.

    Thinking for oneself..risky perhaps…….but not as risky as not thinking for oneself.

    1. Jeff,
      Those are great points you bring up. Each one of them could be expanded upon in detail.
      It’s hardest to think for yourself in a group like this, because you risk losing EVERYTHING. People who leave often feel like they have nothing to gain, also.

  2. It is hard for family members in a cult. If you are a kid, you must do what your parents say, If your grandparents are in the cult your parents may be afraid to leave because their parents will not talk to them anymore if they do. Wives do not want to leave without thier husbands or their children. How much is too much to lose? And it’s scarey when you do leave too, to think of those friends you leave, because they will not like you. A lot of hearts get hurt.

    1. Katie, You asked how much is too much to lose?
      I can’t answer that and I think each person has to answer that alone. They know in their heart when it’s right to leave. It was easier for me to make that decision, because I was single and had no children. I wasn’t married and my family wasn’t part of the group, but I think it would be terribly difficult to leave if I had any of those factors involved in the decision.

      Do you also have an experience in a group like this?

  3. I agree with you completely on the subject of cults and religious or social groups which exclusively limit contact to other members of the group. But I still don’t understand how this relates to Master’s Commission or The Assemblies of God. You are not forced to stay in Master’s and students can have contact with anyone they choose. Also, the plan for the program is for students to attend one year in order to build a foundation with God. Many people choose to attend a second year with a focus on leadership or a specific ministry focus. However, no one is cut off from society and students are constantly encouraged to follow their dreams, wether that means college, trade school, or going directly into the work force. I am not saying that your points are wrong at all. It is never justifiable to manipulate or isolate people, and neither Master’s nor The Assemblies practices this. I understand that there are exceptions and people that will try to delude and prey on young students, but that is the same at colleges, work places and even in many people’s homes. I am just asking you to consider the possibility that you are trying to place the blame for someone’s personal shortcomings on a group in an effort to elevate the support for your cause. It is just a thought.

    1. Jordan,
      I will delete comments that contain such phrases as this: “. I am just asking you to consider the possibility that you are trying to place the blame for someone’s personal shortcomings on a group in an effort to elevate the support for your cause.”

      I consider that a comment policy violation. Please refer to the comment policy and read it thoroughly.

      1. I do not understand your reply to my comment. I completely agree with you on every point that you have blogged concerning the hurt caused by spiritual abuse. I am simply stating that this is not the heart of the ministry, and I personally do not feel that it is justifiable to speak on the behalf of or against all staff members and/or participants in the Master’s Commission programs. Would it be right for me to speak on behalf of all authors? Or all women? No. People are constantly stereotyping and we call that bullying. I do not feel that you are bullying, but I do think that you are stereotyping a large group of people based on a personal experience. I feel awful knowing that someone was wronged by a program that I loved so much. It really breaks my heart. In fact, it makes me sick. But trying to destroy the entire program doesn’t just hurt those who are doing wrong. It also hurts those people that are doing good. It hurts that people running ministries to help the homeless, foster kids, families in need, drug dependent, young people from broken homes that have been through violence and abuse, and the countless others that Master’s groups around the country reach out to. It hurts all of them. The motto of this movement is “To know God, and make Him known.” And that is the heart of this ministry. Do you know Paster Lloyd’s personal motto? It is “To be a stepping stone to help another man reach his dream.” That is not group think. The horrible things that you and the others at your location experienced were not right and they are not the heart behind this ministry. So yes, you need to stand up against abuse. So stand up against the abuser not everyone associated with him. That was the point I was trying to make.

        1. Jordan,
          I appreciate your comments and I know that you love and respect Master’s Commission. I can understand why you’d think I’m lumping all Master’s Commission groups in together when it appears that I’ve only had the experience of one group. It would be very wrong of me to do that. However, I’ve been part of Master’s Commission since 1998, and for several years after that. I know Lloyd and Chris personally, Eric and Raquel, and everyone on staff in MCUSA that you know who has been there since around 1998 or around that time. They’ve been my good friends, too. It’s not easy for me to take a stand against an entire organization, knowing that I love those people very much.

          But, I’ve had several conversations with Lloyd over the past few months, and I’ve communicated with him regularly about my situation in Austin and Lafayette. He know all about it, and he kicked the group out of MCIN affiliations, actually.

          I asked him to go a bit further in my letters, and ensure that all staff (or interns) get paid at least minimum wage while they work for any Master’s Commission program. I also asked for sick days, paid vacation benefits and the like for EVERY MC STAFF MEMBER. I wanted the MCIN to make it a rule. Do you know that many staff members or interns don’t get paid at least minimum wage, even though they’ve been there for several years? This is most true of single staff members. I have several staff members on MCUSA staff and very recent staff members who’ve left who never got paid by Master’s. Frontline members who travel don’t get paid at all, either, even though Matt and Nina get revenue from the cd’s and trips. MC Phoenix got over $144,000 from Phoenix First Assembly of God PER MONTH to cover their deficits, even though people like Matt and Nina and Eric and Raquel had credit cards (p-cards) to freely spend YOUR tuition money on coffee meetings, gas for students or staff, etc.

          Master’s Commission USA is not fiscally responsible. That can and should be changed so that staff members can get paid at least minimum wage for their work.

          In the same sense, staff members have had their relationships interfered with by Lloyd, if he doesn’t like who they choose to date or want to date. He’s very controlling in that sense, too.

          How long have you been there, Jordan, if you don’t mind my asking?

          1. I was with MCUSA for several years, and I do know for a fact that some of the statements that you made regarding finances are inaccurate. Staff members, to this day, have housing and most living expenses paid and are compensated for most travel and are paid for many volunteer tasks such as baby sitting. The staff located at Pastor Lloyd’s Master’s are treated much better than a lot of the church staffs that I currently know and grew up around. All of them have been granted leave for family functions and emergencies. And most have received support in these times of need. Also, I have never seen a relationship interfered with, especially not by Pastor Lloyd, unless someone was getting hurt. Every relationship I have ever witnessed has been encouraged and included some type of long term mentorship. I just completely disagree with you on this subject. Especially regarding some of the “facts and statistics” that you use to support your arguments. I won’t comment any further if you feel that it is disrespectful, but I do feel that the logic surrounding your claim needs to be re-examined.

  4. Speaking just for myself……..if anyone wishes to think that I am just some thoughtless drone susceptible to anybody with no more substance to them than a used car salesman they are free to take it up with me.

    Then perhaps, if that is done publicly, we could ALL see who does and who does not have a substantive stance and a reasonable mind. But baseless accusation, especially when it’s done behind my back is just SOOOO ANNOYING.

    1. Jeff,
      You’re definitely NOT some thoughtless drone!! That’s for sure. 🙂 I’m so glad you and I were both able to leave the groups we were in.

      This post was definitely aimed at those who email me and comment to me that I shouldn’t “spiritually attack” their pastor, etc. I wanted them to be sure that standing by silently and watching this stuff occur is the same (to me) as doing it.

      1. Thank you Lisa, and I am glad for us both too.

        Perhaps if these folks that with all their pretentious judgments required as much transparency from themselves or the pastor as we both seem willing to do here I wouldn’t be annoyed by them implying that my presence here is no good.

        I think you are right that this blog is not a place to argue it out because I don’t have any time for these accusations either. But I do think they may feel free to contact me about their concerns. It’s not like I am too friggin hard to find or anything.

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