Rat Poison? Yes, my thought today comes from rat poison. I hope you never have to use this stuff but it is effective in getting rid of the rodents.
How rat poison works:
Most rat poisons basically rob the body of vitamin K, to put it in the simplest of terms. Vitamin K is essential to blood clotting. Without vitamin K, regular jostling around would cut tears and rips in the animal's body that would never be able to heal, thus causing the rodent to die of internal bleeding.
It is a toxic substance that must be digested in order to work. This is true with toxic environments where you digest what is said, believe what is promoted, and think the thoughts that the environment wants you to think. We all know how toxic the world can be and are surrounded every day by things we just think are insane. Yet, our culture is not the only place we find toxicity because it can also be in our families, in our churches, and even in the companies we own and manage.
Many people today, in a symbolic way, have swallowed ‘rat poison’ which depletes their ability to understand and discern life around them. Their self-awareness is completely gone, and they are going blind and deaf.
How toxicity works:
• Toxic environments work slowly and usually have a good idea or premise that is their foundation. Most toxic groups do not start that way … they just end that way.
• Toxic environments require compliance with an ideology that is never questioned.
• Toxic environments promote only partial information and like to control how much transparency is developed.
• Toxic environments are often shame-based and are highly critical of everyone.
• Toxic environments always have secrets that usually reveal how and why the environment became so toxic.
I have worked in many toxic environments in my lifetime, and many of them would claim to be Christian-based. Christians are gullible because they believe anything is possible with God, and so they believe any stories they are told. There is a trust factor that if you are a Christian leader you are, without question, honest, truthful, and believable. Yet, as in just one example, we have seen over the years priests in the Catholic Church violated parishioners’ trust, which is the most sacred part of the Church. We have also seen well-known Protestant mega-church preachers violating that same trust in various ways of fraud and deception. All these people swallowed the ‘rat poison’ of self-delusion and bled out whom they really were from within. The unfortunate part of these toxic environments is how the people in those same organizations never did anything about it.
Let me be very clear here. Most organizations bleed out from within. They forget that the most devastating part of evil comes from within the organization. Just because we think we are believers and the Church is safe … think again. The greatest threat is rarely ever outside … it’s inside and that is where we should focus our efforts to ensure we don’t promote toxic environments. A few years ago, a tragic and toxic story came out in the news from Chicago. Harvest Chapel in Chicago where James MacDonald was the Senior Pastor was removed from leadership because of personal and corporate abuse as reported by investigative reporter Julie Roys. A Harvest Chapel Elder had these observations when he resigned:
Huston apologized on the part of the board for a ‘failed system’ that gave ‘too much latitude’ and ‘too much trust’; for requiring only ‘partial accountability’ of MacDonald; and for an ‘absence of communication’ that ‘spoke too little, too late.' ~Steve Huston, Harvest Chapel Elder
This toxic case out of Chicago happened because, as Steve Huston said, it was a failed system. We are told by Scripture to test everything, and I believe it includes the behavior of our ministers/ministries as well. In many organizations, leadership can be a slippery slope because they have the freedom and the trust of the people. I don’t think we have to look for demons under every rock, but I do think better standards of accountability are in order throughout our organizations.
Jesus taught that out of the heart evil proceeds, and no one is exempt:
Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.
Toxic environments begin and are maintained because there are toxic people in charge. Toxicity is another name for self-serving self-indulgent behavior, and it always operates from a top-down view of people. Toxic environments see people as minions … not as partners in a game-winning team.
If a toxic environment takes hold it is because everyone swallowed the rat poison. Eventually, everyone will be bleeding out discontent and dissatisfaction. This is one of the reasons there is so much negativity in so many workplaces today.
The solution? Don’t go near the rat poison. Don’t be intimidated by those who are toxic. Set a standard that resists any toxic advances. Acknowledge toxic activity quickly. Don’t be drawn into those environments. Know your enemy. Be aware that those toxic environments manipulate everything they do.
Sometimes the best course of action is to get away. Some toxic environments are too entrenched to change and there is no hope to redeem them.
Remember, you must guard your heart and be aware of how your environments are affecting your life:
Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler