I remember a conversation I had with a worship leader at a Pentecostal college. He told me how much control he had over a congregation just by the way he played. Everyone attributed it to the work of the Holy Spirit but he was quite bothered by how much he felt he could manipulate the crowd.
Here’s another one:
Another thing I learned in “pastoral theology” was how to project an image. The belief was that a Christian leader must always be looked up to in the eyes of the people. If you expose your weaknesses people will lose faith in you.
LT says these are all examples of manipulation. He contrasts this with what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. He concludes with this:
Paul changed the western world one person at a time through love. I don’t think Christian leaders need to pretend or project. One can be open, honest, transparent and truthful and still lead. The catch is a lot of what Paul did is impossible if you are trying to influence hundreds of people at the same time.
So, is it possible to lead without manipulating? Is LT right that this is (nearly) impossible when dealing with a large group of people?