One of the problems of actors in the church is this – you will make a promise or do a deal or make an appointment that you will eventually regret. Once I appointed a married couple to be elders, and I found out later that they were actors. They pretended to believe things they did not (their belief structure was not orthodox Christianity, but they straight out lied about it), they pretended that they were happily married but they were not, and they pretended they supported me but were actually lying about me behind my back. I eventually had to remove them from elders, but not before their lies and behaviour had hurt several people in the church. I made a deal and appointed a leader that I regretted appointing. Because I fell for the act.
I felt kind of stupid after that, but it is nice to know I am not the only person in the world who has been conned by a religious actor. The Gibeonites pretended to have come from a country far away – they acted like travellers but they were not. Joshua actually signed a contract with them and he when he found out they were actors regretted the deal he made with them. If Joshua or myself had taken a little longer we would have not made a decision we would later have regretted. Let our examples be lessons for everyone reading about this subject. Wait and take your time.
I know people who have married an actor! Taken in by their pretending and faking. Wait a bit and think a bit and check out a bit – and marry the right person, appoint the right person as an elder, do not co-sign a loan or go into business with the wrong person! One of your greatest weapons against an actor is time because it is hard for an actor to keep playing the role for so long because it is not who they really are. If you just wait a while, something will give them away.
Three days after Joshua had made his contract with the Gibeonites, they gave themselves away and he found out they were actors. All he had to do was wait 72 hours and he would have seen through the pretense. With the elders I appointed, if I had just kept running the Bible study myself for about six more weeks, I would have found out they were teaching false doctrine and lying about me. They could not control themselves for long, no actor can. Let time be your friend if you have suspicions about someone. Do not be afraid to wait three days, or three months or even three years to make sure someone is who they say they are! Beware of promoting people who have only been around you a short time. You need to surround yourself with loyal people and promote loyal leaders. As Andrew Wommack says “Surround yourself with people safe to you!”. Some ministers do not surround themselves with a team claiming they only rely on God, and that’s not the way to do things! You need natural advisors who are loyal, people who are experts in areas such as law, technical, and so on. All pastors need good deacons! So find out who are genuine and who are actors.
People will give themselves away because they cannot keep up the act forever. Delilah several times betrayed Samson, the signs were there. But here are some things that I have observed over time with actors:
- Women are better at acting before an audience of men and men are better at acting before an audience of women. Despite what society tells us, men and women are not the same, they think differently. It is easier for a women to lie to a man as they don’t think the same, and it is harder for the man to spot it, and vice versa. When a woman says something to me that I suspect, I will always run it past my wife. Everyone in any leadership anywhere in the world needs to know: men are more likely to be taken in by women, and women are more likely to be taken in by men. Men are easily fooled by women – we find it difficult to tell if a soft voice is lying to us, we find it genuinely hard to believe a little, fragile, harmless-looking lady could say something venomous.
- Religious people are some of the best actors in the world. Jesus said so – he called the scribes and Pharisees actors, comparing them to coffins that are painted white on the outside but full of dead bones on the inside. There are actual church leaders and elders who are actors! They pretend to be holy, but are selfish, mean, immoral and so on. They are playing in the pulpit. I know ministers who are sweet in the pulpit, but they are not sweet to their wives, families or their waiters in the restaurant. I’ve heard ministers lie about the size of their crowds or miracles they have seen.
- Children can be remarkable actors. Every parents needs to know that – your child can pretend to be good, and outside of the home be terrible.
- Actors often seem inappropriately enthusiastic. I am not against enthusiasm, but people who seem enthusiastic at the wrong time should be a red flag to you as a leader. Dinah was raped, and suddenly her brothers were keen to evangelise the rapist – that should have been a clue they were acting.
- Actors are often acting to get something from you – a promotion, a favour, you to promote their ministry or give them your pulpit. If someone is prepared to act to gain that thing, it goes beyond a godly desire – it is now a psychological need. That a person is prepared to lie to get something shows they have a problem.
- An actor is not a doer. When you watch Tom Cruise jumping off an exploding building, he is probably doing that himself in real life. But he is the exception, most actors are not doing their own stunts! Actors in the church are the people giving you “great” advice that they are not involved in any way in doing it. They will not invest, give, serve, help or do anything. If you receive a suggestion on what the church can do for this or that, ask the person giving the suggestion to carry it out! I had a man phone me up once telling me that our church did not have a strong enough youth program. He had all these ideas about how the youth should be run, so I said “let’s get you a DBS check, and let’s get you running the youth once a month” – but he would not. He would not get involved in building as he was only an actor. After several more of his suggestions he never was willing to lift a finger to get involved with, he left the church. On the other hand, people willing to get involved and go above and beyond are very rarely actors!
- Actors can make people unhappy with reality. Have you ever heard of the CSI-effect? CSI is a fictional TV series where a team of police scientists seem to be able to solve any crime with their technology. What happened was it made jurors unable to make decisions in real-life trials because the fictional technology did not exist and they wanted it to. A real trial was too real for jurors who spent hours watching actors! When people only see actors as Christians, they can miss out on real Christians because they are real. The fact is real Christians are human, no one is super-human. We can be great, but we cannot be perfect. I have seen people offended and hurt at me just because I am not fictional, but real! The problem is they have spent too long with the fiction! There is a CSI effect – a CHRISTIANITY SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE effect if we are fooled by church actors. When you step away from the acting, you find out that a David can win battles, a Jairus can see his daughter raised from the dead, a Peter can be an apostle. We cannot actually be positive until we are real. Victories are not just possible for actors and in fiction – we can have real successes here and now on planet earth even as real people! Listen if Ben Conway can plant and grow churches – you can too! That’s the power of not acting and being real!
- Actors are often exposed by advice that will never work in the real world. They come up with advice that you doing the work know will not work. I have people tell me how to do something as a pastor that I know will not work because I run ten churches and have been pastoring and ministering part-time since 1997 and full-time since 2011. When someone gives me advice I know that does not work, I know this person is playing games!
- Actors want an audience, real authentic leaders want disciples. You will know someone is an actor when they start to build an audience. They will not call it an audience, they will call it a committee. You will hear something like “You cannot trust just one person to make the decisions”, “I think our pastor has too much authority”, and they sound safe and mature and wise – but it is actually them making a powerplay for an audience. Read your Bible – whenever God does something He calls a Son not a committee! I don’t appoint committees for different departments and churches in Tree of Life – I appoint a person! A key person! That is how God works too. Some people love audiences, Jesus loves disciples. All I need to plant a healthy church anywhere in the world is one man. I am going to invade nations in the near future, not with committee but by one man, or one woman, or one married couple. I only need one person to start a new department.
- Actors do not think. It was famously said of Clark Gable that he had to become an actor because he wasa not smart enough to do anything else. True wisdom comes from the Lord, and you cannot pretend to have that wisdom and the strength that comes with it. A pastor or leader who does not walk with the Lord does not have real wisdom and strength. There a battles people will lose if they do not have wisdom from the Lord and actors just cannot do that because that wisdom comes from the secret place. Selah.