Con artists share these traits:
- tend to be excellent conversationalists
- exploit our human weaknesses like greed, dishonesty, vanity, compassion or just a naïve expectation of good faith
- are psychopaths with antisocial personality disorder, or ASP, that begins in early childhood or adolescence.
- are often witty and articulate. When they get to the pulpits, they can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming, but in relationships they are very controlling, self-serving, and irresponsible.
- look good on the outside, but an ulterior motive lurks on the inside.
- see themselves as victims rather than those they hurt.
- claim a special anointing. They believe they are special and entitled to special behavior; rules that apply to others do not apply to them.
- display their own brand of logic and an excuse for everything.
- appear to be very giving, but there is always a price to pay for their attention.
- can apologize easily, but there is no sign of true repentance.
- don't feel love or guilt; tend to minimize the pain of those they have hurt.
- discredit their accusers when they are confronted.
- cope by making themselves the hero in the worst situations.
- are clever, and often able to keep from being caught.
- have extreme shifts in personality, may be kind and sarcastic in the same instant.
- are very needy, and blame others for not being able to meet their needs.
The purpose of this article is to learn the modus operandi of the con artists in our churches, then to resort to stay very far away from them, avoid them at all costs.
Here are some disturbing patterns that believers will also do good to watch for:
- Con artists, in the clergy, play with our inner beliefs or ignorance.
- Con artist pastors focus on mind control. They want to create “dumb sheep”. They specialize in teaching people what to think. They condemn, ridicule, or get rid of those who have an “independent spirit”. They label or use character assassination on those who refuse to go along.
- Con artists pastors don’t operate alone, they hide behind “shills” or “co-conspirators”. They usually find someone that the members know and respect for his/her integrity to give their message a high level of credibility. By so doing, the credibility of the speaker will dispel any hidden agenda.
- Con artists pastors ask for trust just because “I am the pastor”. They just adore their titles of “pastors”. Jesus said about them: “They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have people call them Rabbi (Mat 23:7). Most church goers will not question the credibility of a “mfundisi” or pastor.
- Con artists pastors tend to ignore the evidence by simply discarding the truth as “a devil scheme”.
- Con artists pastors create a problem, and then pursue (refuse?) to offer a solution. By so doing, chaos, confusion, grief, misery and all the related negative emotions, conditions and circumstances are at play to manipulate people to make choices that under other circumstances they would never consider.
- Con artists pastors use guilt projection and condemnation to induce “spiritual conversion”.
- Con artists pastors set up a secret language. They use “hinting” to manipulate people into giving them their resources; they give ambiguous orders so that if anything backfires they could safely deny it, then reject the responsibility and the blame on some one else.
- Con artists pastors are easily offended. When they are caught in an unethical action, they often feign offence, or become dramatic. This tactic will often put the accuser on the defensive and derail the confrontation.
- Con artists pastors are capable of the unthinkable to muzzle the truth.“But evil people and phony preachers will go from bad to worse as they mislead people and are themselves misled.” [2Ti 3:13]
When a believer finally discovers that he/she has been victim of a con artist pastor, guilt and shame ensue. But anyone can be a victim, even a person who is considered too intelligent or too spiritual can be conned.
There is a simple way to prevent self from being a victim: “Ask questions, ask the “pastor” to show you his claims in the scripture, then get another opinion and/or search for yourself.”
Any good pastor will welcome reasonable questions or bona fide fact finding, and will not urge anyone to take a quick decision.
Con artist pastors just hate confrontation; they will get rid of you as soon as you become too inquisitive. If you have fallen prey to a con artist pastor, don’t let the guilt and the shame overpower you. Rather run to the cross, plead the blood of Christ, repent and receive His grace, forgive the persecutor to kill any root of bitterness, revoke and cancel any allegiance you pledge with the persecutor and then cast out the devil and his hosts in the name of Jesus Christ.
It might also be useful to seek counseling and deliverance from a reputable ministry or therapist.
The con artists in the clergy are usually "too smart by half." Eventually, their lies catch up with them. They are forced to cover lies with more lies. When it gets to be too much to believe, others begin to feel betrayed, or used.“Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you'll harvest.” [Gal 6:7]