It is important to note that Ezekiel is not speaking of literal shepherds, but rather he is speaking to the spiritual shepherds of Israel.  He is speaking to those who forget their mission and lose sight of their calling. He is concerned with those who seek to advance their church, rather than the church.


I am particularly concerned with the response you receive when you disagree — which is something each of us should feel free to do. You say you are scolded and shamed for disagreeing. It is quite possible that your pastor has fallen into an attitude of authoritarianism and needs continual assurances of being in control. These kinds of leaders cannot tolerate anyone who voices a contrary opinion — it is too threatening for them.


Jesus, himself, talked about the abuse of power. He railed against the religious leaders of his day, stating his opinion about true leadership: “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25).


Here are some thoughts for all of us to consider:


  • We must be careful of performance-based Christianity — we are all sinners, saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9);
  • None of us are in a position to judge each other — we hate the sin, but love the sinner (Matthew 7:1);
  • We must resist legalism — superficial Christianity (Matthew 23:27);
  • We must be compassionate, loving and accepting, always “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Finally, you note that you have struggled your whole life from codependency. Often people with porous boundaries, and an uncertain sense of self, have greater difficulty dealing effectively with authority. While it may be very challenging, it is important for you to be true to what God is telling you. Keep sharing your thoughts and opinions, respectfully. Your voice needs to be heard. It is important that you honor the wisdom God has given you.


“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).


David Hawkins, Ph.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage   Saying It So He'll Listen, and  When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled  The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and  The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt.  Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.