Lloyd Rediger was a true pioneer. Direct and honest, he dared to tell the unwelcome truth about the real-life experiences of pastors and their families, carefully buried and tucked away to preserve the niceness of the church. No one else was willing to expose this façade. His message, that there are people who occupy our churches really wanting to destroy the pastor, was not a popular one.
Dr. Rediger coined the phrase “Clergy Killers,” the title of his famous book. He meant not those poor souls who are just emotionally distraught, or insecure, or in need of more love, but people driven by raw evil to bring down the pastor at any cost. Who are the clergy killers? They are a unique category of human beings wholly dedicated to the destruction of a pastor’s ministry and will stop at nothing to carry out their mission. He says in Clergy Killers, “We are not talking about conflict anymore, but about emotional or spiritual abuse of traumatic proportions. And we are discovering that such abuse is exhausting the pastors and draining the energy and resources of congregations and denominational programs.”
Rediger was often severely criticized for using such uncompromising language in describing some antagonists. He was often exhorted that he be more loving, kind, or tolerant because the person was going through a bad time or whatever the excuse was. His doctoral work in human personality and psychotherapy gave him deeper insights into a person’s behavior. He called a spade a spade and resisted diluting his point. He insisted that if a pastor faces a true clergy killer, any other language would only mask over a real and dangerous threat. To misdiagnose this problem would put the pastor, his family, and the church at serious risk.
Lloyd Rediger’s point has been proved too many times to count. Yet, many churches and denominational executives still disregard his common sense views and continue to do what has already proved harmful to churches—rewarding the clergy killers with more power in their churches. Harmed pastors continue to leave their ministries and pursue jobs in other fields.
I had the honor to meet Dr. Rediger and have him speak at our church. He was a great help to my family and me at a very critical point in our ministry, and we shall always remember him with great appreciation and affection. With his passing from the scene, no other writer of his courage or laser beam analysis of church conflict has taken his place.
I join the thousands of others in thanking Dr. Rediger and his family for being such a blessing in our lives. Our prayers are with the Rediger family.
To buy a copy of his book Clergy Killers click here.