17 Signs You’re an ‘Empire Builder,’ Not a ‘Kingdom Builder’ by JOSEPH MATTERA


Are you looking out for the kingdom or your own personal gain?
Are you looking out for the kingdom or your own personal gain? (Lightstock/Dollar photo club)

Ever since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity divided in the 11th century, some of the greatest fears of the once united Christendom has been realized—fragmentation and division.

Even in the 16th century when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, there was the hope that there would only be a few major expressions of the body of Christ—never in their wildest dreams did the reformers envision all the denominations and now various branches and networks of Christianity that have evolved—which has given opportunity for a spirit of lawlessness, independence and empire building among some insecure but gifted leaders. Whether all these expressions are of God or not is not the purpose of this article.

However, the following will show us some signs revealing when the motivation to build a church, ministry or network is akin to when the human race attempted to build their own empire-epitomized by the “Tower of Babel” which God judged and scattered across the whole earth. (Gen. 11:1-18)

In 1 Kings 11:11 and 12:16 God divided the kingdom of Israel because of religious apostasy, which is the same reason the Catholic Church was judged and fragmented—too much concentration of power in the hands of humans who deviated from the true way of Jesus and the apostles. God will judge His church and hold back revival from certain churches, ministries and regions when their key spiritual leaders are attempting to build themselves an empire rather then build the kingdom.

Leaders talk the talk but their actions speak louder then their so called “kingdom first words.” The following are 17 signs you are an “empire builder” instead of a “kingdom builder”:

1. You rejoice when other key leaders in your region are struggling

Although all leaders with their mouth say they are sad when another church, pastor or leader in their area is struggling, I have observed that some leaders seem to privately gloat or compare themselves with other failing leaders in their area. Whether the failing church or leader is right or wrong, it never pleases God when we internally rejoice or gloat when the body of Christ is not advanced in our region.

2. You are territorial and only work with those under your “covering”

Some leaders and denominations I know will only do outreaches with churches and leaders who have a ministerial and financial allegiance with them. If we are going to reach our communities, we have to be willing to cross denominations and networks and work with the leaders who are sincerely committed to advancing the kingdom.

3. You only support events that which can give you a platform 

I have seen leaders actually pull out of a city-wide or community event because their name was not advertised on the program or because they are rivals with a leader who is part of said program. This shows that their concern was not advancing the kingdom but on advancing their own name and empire-building goals.

4. You tend to exaggerate your own importance and influence to outsiders

Empire builders treat their ministry like a sporting event—they are constantly throwing around numbers and stats and comparing their numbers to the numbers of other ministers. They say things like, “We are growing in record numbers” or “This was the most significant event in our city” or “We have the largest network in our city.” Or worse yet, they claim something like “our ministry is the reason why the crime rate went down in our community or region,” and they tend to exaggerate their influence, importance and results in their region or community.

Kingdom builders brag about what God is doing through His church in His city, and they also attempt to applaud the success of others whose feet they wash instead of propping themselves up for photo shoots and publicity. I have observed that several so-called revivals in our country the past 10 years have been more or less nothing more then good advertising and marketing rather then a real move of God.

5. You are jealous of successful key leaders in your region 

I know I am with an “empire builder” when I am with a person who is always attempting to dig up dirt on other leaders, criticizing key leaders in their community, or giving “faint praise” when asked about other key leaders in their region.

6. You speak about kingdom unity as a smokescreen to hide your own selfish agenda

Some of the most self-centered empire builders I have known in the past 30 years have spoken the most in public about the need for unity in the body of Christ. They use this kind of talk to get “sheep pastors and ministers” to forsake their own agenda and follow them to aid them in building their empire! They know the entire lingo and have the biblical passages down, but unfortunately their actions do not correspond with their words and preaching.

7. Your name and picture has to be highlighted in every event you participate in 

There are leaders I have heard speak about God raising up a movement of “nameless” and “faceless” people and yet in all their conferences, literature and advertising their picture and name are highlighted more than anybody or anything else in the program! I even attended one conference in which there was a life-size picture of the leader in the lobby with the event and program advertised in small print under his picture!

8. You try to steal the loyalties of people connected to other ministries 

I have observed that one of the key signs that someone is an empire builder is when they go after key leaders in other leaders’ churches or networks. I myself have had leaders representing our Christ Covenant coalition approached by another leader in my city, asking them to join his network as a representative, even though these leaders have been part of my leadership for over 10 years!

When leaders do this, they make themselves look bad, both to the loyal leaders they approach and to the other key leaders in the city who eventually find out about the M.O. of said empire builder.

9. You love those who follow you and disregard all others

Empire builders have an “either your with me or against me” mentality and approach to life.

Empire builders will not be friends with a person if they are also connected to the ministry of a rival. One of my regional leaders was actually told several years ago that he was no longer welcome to preach in a particular church because he was keeping the company of certain other leaders (me).

The reason for this is that since empire builders are untrustworthy and use their pseudo-friendships as a platform to perpetuate their own empire, they project that same spirit and mentality on other leaders in their region and thus they cut off people loyal to other networks and ministries because they suspect others are all untrustworthy like they themselves are!

10. You have a “top-down” leadership approach and thus struggle to attract strong, successful leaders

Empire builders surround themselves which “yes men” and actually discourage strong, resourceful leaders from working or partnering with them because it does not fit their “top-down” leadership style. Unlike mature leaders who take a “bottom-up” approach—in which they try to lead through consensus with multiple participation of various levels of people taking responsibility in ministry (so that all have ownership in the process)—empire builders surround themselves with leaders of ministries they deem less significant and who want to follow their dictates without meaningful, strategic dialogue.

11. You are driven by self and not led by the Spirit

Your intense need for affirmation because of your insecurity drives your need for success—not the glory of God and work of advancing the kingdom. Thus there is rarely inner peace or rest because you are striving—constantly trying to create a platform and expand your ministry on your own efforts instead of being led by the Lord and letting Him bring the opportunities and open doors.

12. You are an opportunist when other ministries are struggling 

Empire builders make believe they are concerned when other churches or ministries are struggling, but they attempt to maneuver themselves so that they can capitalize on the struggles of other ministries and seize either their property or, more likely, their choicest leaders and key people.

13. Your main goal in life is to build some kind of monument to your success 

Empire builders are obsessed with building bigger and better buildings, and acquiring more and more property—even if they have to go into huge debt. The lower their self-esteem, the bigger they have to build to compensate for their internal lack. Unfortunately, they are often risking the future of their ministry with all this spending and they rarely if ever think about how their successor is going to fill all these buildings and pay off the mortgage! Remember, there is never any real success without a successor!

14. When possible, you will sabotage the influence and ministry of other leaders you deem a threat to your influence 

Recently I reunited with a key leader in another country after almost 12 years of disconnect. I tried numerous times to stay connected but I could never understand why there was some kind of obstruction in the relationship. After speaking for three hours it finally dawned on us that another leader who was jealous of my influence in this country sabotaged our relationship because he wanted to supplant me as the covering of this key leader.

I have also witnessed firsthand when one leader will insinuate lies about another key leader behind their back to try to stop their influence from spreading to other regions. In instances like this we need to speak up and defend the honor of those not present in the room.

15. You tend to copy those you are jealous of in your region 

It is said that when someone copies your ideas it is the highest form of flattery. Empire builders will attempt to replicate and outdo many of the things other key leaders in their region are doing. They may call it something different, but in the end it is essentially the same model but with the attitude to make it bigger and better then anything else in their region.

It is like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s trying to reinvent themselves to keep up with Starbucks. It is borne out of personal competition and not a pure love for Christ and His kingdom.

16. You are a narcissist in relating to your desires in life 

Ultimately, empire builders are lovers of themselves. Thus they will sacrifice the dreams and lives of others so their own dreams can be fulfilled. They will throw everybody and anybody under the bus to advance their goals or save their own skin!

Their incredible commitment to the ministry is really only a commitment to advance their own ideals and dreams—which is narcissistic in nature, this is unlike the model of Christ who laid down His own life for the sheep. Ezekiel 34 speaks about the judgment God will bring on shepherds who use and abuse the sheep for their own pleasure.

17. You tell people that your church or network is the main key in your city for true revival and transformation

When giving reports about your ministry, you exaggerate the results of your work and utilize self serving testimonies that back up your claim for spiritual dominance in your region. Many pastors I know have told me of prophecies that have come forth alluding to the fact that it is their church that is going to start a revival for the nation or their community—or that revival is going to start in their region and go to the world because their region is the gate to the rest of the country. I am to tired of hearing these prophecies and so-called words from the Lord.

Unfortunately, some prophets are motivated to give these flattering words so they can be invited back to preach because they know that most inexperienced leaders fall prey to prophetic flattery. That being said, empire builders use these words, visions and experiences to back up their claim that their particular church or ministry is “the church” in their region God is going to use so they can garner the loyalties of unsuspecting and naïve sheep and even pastors.

In my experience, most churches with that attitude are judged by God and actually begin to decline until the leaders repent of pride. Although it is possible that revival can come through one church to the whole world (Azusa Street revival in 1906) it is the exception to the rule because community, city and national transformation usually take place when God visits a region or nation and multitudes of churches receive “times of refreshing” all at the same time, resulting in the formation of informal apostolic networks who partner together to continue to perpetuate the advance of the kingdom of God

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York, and author of numerous books, including Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities. Follow him on Facebook or visit him online at josephmattera.org.

So What Do We Do Now With Mark Driscoll?


So What Do We Do Now With Mark Driscoll?.

I read this article and thought to myself how sad it is that popular preachers are straying from the safety net of wise counselors by abusing their powers that not only affect the flock, but their spiritual walk with God on a personal basis.

I think the major take away from this article are the numbered items that I think are key for leaders to understand about their role. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes…but it is the attitude in which those refuse to repent or be corrected by them that worries me. I have seen this happen in a church before and all the signs are there, but people are too afraid to speak up, pay attention, or do something about it (i.e. confront their leaders). We are our brothers keeper…and it is a duty to make sure that when even a leader strays. we guide them back on the right path on the right road with love and compassion and direction. If we shy away from correcting them…are we not saying we don’t care for their lives???

This should be food for thought today.

What would Jesus want us to do? We cannot forsake our brothers and sisters…but if they refuse to change…they will have to answer to God in the long run for their own actions. Apostasy continues when people don’t stand up for what is right, allowing abuse to continue to happen.

As a watchwoman, I find this to be critical to watch out for this year…leaders will reap what they sow during the season of the harvest if they don’t repent. It is not God’s will to watch Christian leaders fall…He wants them to change their ways and humble themselves and pray and turn away from their wicked ways, and God will restore them and heal them and deliver them, if and when they do choose the path of the humble and decide to repent openly before God and their flock.

This is a good time to remind people of the warning signs of an unhealthy church:

1. Little or no accountability. When celebrity preachers seem eager to tell everyone else what to do but aren’t willing to hear correction from others, prepare for a train wreck. There is safety in the multitude of counselors (see Prov. 11:14). There is much less safety—even danger—when a leader does not seek counsel from a diverse group of his peers.

2. Spiritual elitism. If there is a spirit of control in a church, people are usually told their group is superior. If people choose to leave, they are shunned or branded as renegades. Sometimes, in extreme cases, people are even cursed if they leave. This cultic behavior inflicts unimaginable emotional suffering and also divides families.

3. An oppressive atmosphere. Authoritarian leaders control people through manipulation. This may come in the form of threats, legalistic demands, unreasonable requirements or false doctrines. In such a church no one is allowed to ask questions. Spiritual heaviness lies like a thick cloud over the congregation, and few believers manifest genuine joy.

4. Angry domination. Tyrants are surprisingly similar. Because they want to control their surroundings, they often blow up when people do not conform to their demands. Yet the apostle Paul taught that church leaders should not be “violent” or “quarrelsome” but “self-controlled” and “gentle” (see 1 Tim. 3:2-3). He also instructed Timothy that the Lord’s servant “must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:24).

 5. A low view of women. While churches today differ in their views on women in leadership, it should be noted that authoritarian churches almost always discourage women from pursuing any genuine role in ministry. Women are viewed as useful only in their functions as submissive wives and mothers, and they are not encouraged to step beyond these confines to pursue ministry opportunities.

Let’s pray that the healing power of Jesus covers this situation in Seattle—and that the people who left Mars Hill Church, the people who remain there, and Mark Driscoll himself can recover from the trauma of spiritual abuse.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies Men Believe and other books.

Disclaimer Notice: Breaking this Code of Silence


Hi Everyone,

I just want to say that the next few posts maybe 18+ in content because they are addressing touchy issues like Pornography and sexual abuse and some of these testimonies from these individuals aren’t for the faint of heart or for the spiritually and emotionally  immature individual. I have been feeling in my spirit, that I need to address the things that are hurting people in the church, and by church I mean globally in scale and how this code of silence has functioned to prevent people from being healed and delivered.

Sister Res’s last post that I just re-blogged here on WordPress is a prime example of some of the things I’d like to address. The predator in this case was a Minister in the Church mind you, and I’m not going to say that all predators are in church because they can be found anywhere and everywhere. However, it is one of the institutions where we expect our shepherds to protect the flock when such grievous affairs happen. Shoving something like this under the rug and using the law to manipulate and continue such sinful affairs is APOSTASY that needs to be curbed with serious reprimand and Godly correction that may require legal action.

If you all have read my post regarding The Importance of Detecting False Humility you will understand that the predator in Sister Res’ article called Why Child Sexual Abuse Grooming Must become a Felony: The Story of Jason Kidd and His Daughter fits to the “T” for TRUTH.

There are some Wolves in Sheep’s clothing in the Body of Christ and discernment is one thing that we can use to detect them, but after detection there needs to be some sort of wisdom and practical action and structure to deal with these wolves accordingly.

Apostasy causes people to put the Church into disrepute. The Word cannot reach those that have been abused by manipulators who use the Word to abuse the flock. I’m telling you that God ain’t pleased with such matters and as of late, my spirit has been grieving over this area. I’ve been praying about this for a while, because of stories I’ve read and also because I’ve encountered people who turned away from the church because of these very same reasons of abuse. So Please take the Disclaimer Notice seriously and understand that the few posts that are yet to come may be heavy and I appreciate my readers and respect you enough to let you know this in advance so that you aren’t shocked regarding the content.

Personal Testimony

I admit that at first I didn’t want to do this, but I cannot ignore what I feel the Holy Spirit wants me to talk about. I can’t explain why this is gripping me right now, but I feel like I can’t keep my mouth shut about this anymore since I also have been in a situation where trust was broken by someone I knew.

My first prophetic dream that I had was at age 4 concerning a woman that was to be my nanny when I got to Australia. When we landed in the country, we were introduced to the workers at the house and she was one of the live-in nannies introduced. She was a pretty person who smiled a lot but I was tired after a long flight from Germany and didn’t really care for the introductions. I was 4 years old and wanted to sleep. The first night in Australia I had my first prophetic dream. In this dream this woman (the nanny) chased me in a mall and when I got to the second floor, there was no railing and she pushed me off deliberately and I fell. Before I hit the ground, I woke up and I heard the spirit of the Lord speak to me at age 4 and He said “Do not trust this woman, she is very evil”. I know this sounds far fetched to you right about now but this is really true. As a 4 year old, I didn’t understand why I shouldn’t trust her. Later on I soon began to realize why. She ended up being the woman that would later molest me and God tried to warn me, a 4-year old child who was innocent enough to trust in such an evil adult that this would happen. At this point, I do not care if people think my testimony is whack and unbelievable, but this is something that happened to me and I’m going to be frank about it since silence is deadly.

I am here to say that I too am a victim of molestation and sexual abuse. This woman that was my live-in nanny (not a family member)  was supposedly a “Christian” who actually in fact was a person who tried to groom me into practicing witchcraft. She exposed me to pornography first, tried to make me pray weird prayers that I soon found out later in my walk were incantations, gave me strange items to which I suffered a lot of spiritual attacks after that. She tried to poison me slowly with food since she would always prepare my breakfast as a means of silencing me about the molestation because she was fearful that I’d talk to my grandparents and reveal what she had done and get arrested. She made me promise not to tell my grandparents and bought me gifts to keep my mouth shut. As a kid, I didn’t know any better and did what she wanted me to do. Sometimes I wish I could have told my grandparents about this situation but my grandma was strict so I thought I would be blamed for allowing these things to happen to me, but later on I realized I should have confided in my grandparents when I could have because they were always on my side.

This so-called nanny often told me that she “loved me” but later on she grew cold and I mentally shut down. She then realized I wasn’t buying her “love-act” and got paranoid and tried to poison me but I still remained loyal and remained silent because I felt that nothing could be done about it. There was a time I would vomit everyday the food she prepared for me to eat to the point of blood and my grandmother got scared and took me to the family doctor because I was losing weight. There was an exchange where I heard my doctor tell a nurse that I had been progressively poisoned since they found something in my blood. At age 5 I could understand a lot so they didn’t know I was listening to the conversation.   She had the trust of my Grandparents, my uncle and aunt and she used that to her advantage. There is more to this story but I think I’ll stop here. What I can say is that I felt like the deed was done and I had to live with the consequences. This was a grave error on my part, but does a young child know any better?

I became disillusioned in my walk but somehow maintained my faith in God despite these events. This story is just one statistic. I praise God that I can share it without fear here. I feel such a release and I don’t care what people think of me now…She wasn’t the only manipulative person I encountered because there were also teachers in the “Christian” schools I attended that also betrayed my trust but that’s a story for another day. The reason why I’m telling my story here is so that for those that feel alone and don’t know what to do, silence keeps you trapped in the cycle of abuse. The only way to set yourself free is if you speak. I wish I learned this earlier, but evil knows no bounds and tries to do all that it can to get you to remain silent. Silence is deadly people. Even though I’ve been through this abuse, I have forgiven my abuser(s). There is no point in maintaining hatred because that is what keeps us bound in the first place. God wants people to be really real with themselves and not be in denial of the pain they feel. So for the next few posts, please listen to these testimonies with an open heart and don’t be so quick to judge without really hearing the truth for what it is about for these individuals. Sometimes the raw truth is hard to handle but Jesus says, The truth will set you FREE.

So my intention for this post and the following posts is to address difficult stories and come out of the closet with stuff that churches are hush hush about.  Jesus Loves and has always loved His Flock and I feel that He is sad and grieved when His children are abused by folk who are entrusted to care for them but are really Wolves in sheep clothing. There is a high price to pay for those that practice such lawlessness and abuse should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Keep that in mind. 

Jesus is the True Shepherd and if people aren’t following the True Shepherd’s example to tend to the flock and end up abusing the flock, I feel that some people should be removed without question. This isn’t a local problem, it’s a world wide one and people should not fear addressing these issues like it is. Some churches do and many churches don’t but is protecting one felon at the expense of the flock that important? Is God pleased with that????  At some point everyone will be held accountable on that day of judgement…we have to address sin like it is and not water down the truth so “some people can sleep well at night”. So please regard my disclaimer now and appreciate where I’m coming from with the few posts that I will prepare. I fear God enough to do this regardless of whether I become unpopular or not because the truth isn’t popular and I know that in advance to write without fear. I may lose readers but it is what it is. I respect you all and thank you for reading up until now.  God bless You All.

Thanks for reading everybody!

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