About Pearls & Swine

Kelly Dehnert, Editor of Pearls and Swine Site, was the founder and Director of an international mission organization and received a Doctor of Ministry. His dissertation research was on toxic leadership in Christian organizations. Kelly served on a national denominational committee to provide resources to churches to respond well to abuse and is currently serving on three non-profit boards (one as an advisor) of ministries to victims of abuse.

From the Editor

Kelly Dehnert, Editor

It is my desire that these writings are pearls . . . Good News for those who suffer under toxic leadership. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46). And that the “swine,” those who reap destruction among their fellow image-bearers, will be turned from creating a hell for their followers.

In a perfect world, every part of the body of Christ would function in the way in which it should. Like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12, every Christian, gifted by God, has a place in God’s kingdom-building work.[1] Some believe they are called by God to pursue that kingdom-building work as an employee in a Christian church, mission or parachurch organization. Frequently, Christian organizations are led by charismatic, charming, and visionary leaders.

However, some of these leaders are also “cruel, tyrannical, [and] fuel workplace misery,” as Christian authors, Gary Chapman, Paul White, and Harold Myra describe.[2] These “toxic” leaders are just as present in Christian organizations as in non-Christian ones according to Rob Hay, Principle of Redcliffe College.[3]

This is why Pearls and Swine Site exists.

We believe Jesus classifies these “toxic” leaders as “swine” in His teaching to His disciples in Matthew 7:1-6. In this passage, Jesus tells His church to approach a brother who has sinned with a self-aware humility. “Take the log out of your own eye,” He says, “before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

But, in a rather ominous turn of phrase, Jesus follows [verse 6] with “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

I emphasize the last six words because I did not notice them or consider them until I lived and worked under toxic leaders. I found that confronting them was not just a waste of time (lest they trample good criticism under their feet), but dangerous.

And, Jesus gives permission to run for safety.

Rather than remain silent and suffer the trauma alone, Pearls and Swine gives a place for sharing the hurt alongside one another as Jesus desires for His church.[4]

Christian psychiatrist, Diane Langberg says, “When people have been traumatized, they repeat things over and over, trying to grasp what cannot be understood and trying to carry what is unbearable.[5] She says it is important for us to have a safe place to share the “unbearable” until we find spiritual and emotional resolution.

So, for those who have shared their stories with me in these pages, it is my prayer that it helps in the healing process.

For those leaders who have the humility necessary to lead, I pray that you learn from the foolishness of other leaders who will not bend the knee to Jesus. 

We want the people who truly desire to serve the Lord in the workplace in humility to share their suffering under the swine. 

I look forward to hearing the ways each of us and the church community can learn and grow from your experience.

The names and places of these stories are kept confidential. We believe that it is more helpful for others to not be distracted by actual names when learning from the principles taught through their stories.

Contact me with your story by email: editor@pearlsandswinesite.com

“To Africa On a Lark” by Kelly Dehnert, Editor

I wrote “To Africa On a Lark” to celebrate our host country while serving as missionaries at a Christian college in Malawi, Africa. We learned more than we taught as we came to grips with our Western blind spots. I share our experiences of animals, people, places, and of course music – being that I am a musician myself.

The purchase of “Africa On a Lark” helps support the mission of this blog.

[To Africa On a Lark] is extremely readable, with an easy to follow flow. The stories are quite engaging…The overall theme of cross-cultural adjustment, with the “razor” image, comes through clearly. I hope that many will read, enjoy, and benefit from your engaging string of accounts.

Rev. J. Nelson Jennings, PhD
Editor, Global Missiology 

3 thoughts on “About Pearls & Swine

  1. Such trauma is often both a communal and a private matter….it is communal in the sense that others stood by too afraid to do or say anything; it is private in that it is done by one person to another….it may be that healing is also both communal and private. This can be a positive contribution to the communal part, providing a community of “give and take” and reflection. Thank you for caring.

  2. I was in a church for several years with a charismatic but tyrannical pastor. When I finally ‘woke up’ (after a major heartbreaking experience) I was slowly able to move on, realizing that my faith was in Jesus and not in the pastor. However, my young (~12 year old) was so damaged she has never trusted a church again and has struggled with loss of faith. Later in my life, I ran into the same sort of man running a very big and successful overseas mission. He lies, demoralizes his workers and volunteers, etc. etc. Fortunately, I was able to recognize him quickly (probably because of my earlier experience) and distance myself from his and his cronies. Seems some people believe that the Lord’s work somehow has become their personal kingdom. I did see many people damaged by both of these men. I am now very suspicious myself of very successful pastors and leaders. Thank you for having this organization.

    • Thank you for your comments, Donna. The problem is widespread and there certainly needs to be a response from the church to bring accountability and healing. I am thankful my children were never affected in the same way yours was. That is one of the most disappointing results of toxic leadership. When we suggest “grace” be given by overlooking the toxicity, we provide opportunity for further destruction of others.

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