Church Leadership and Sexual Harassment

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A Leadership Problem –

Church Leadership and Sexual Harassment
By Victoria A. Cobbah- EMBA11120037 EMBA 606: Corporate Leadership Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)

ABSTRACT Religion or Christianity is meant to instil moral and ethical values in people and as such it is worrying and worthy of noting that there are always reported cases of sexual harassment of some church members by their leaders. This topic has been inspired by my observations, experiences and experiences of people I know. It is a leadership problem that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. Churches in Ghana have evolved over the past years with huge congregations and the Holy Spirit’s dispensation. One would have thought that moral standards would have greatly improved (if not in the general Ghanaian societies), in the churches at least. Some of these churches are very large in terms of infrastructure, operations and membership base, and run as corporate organisations even though they are not-for-profit. They therefore need the same mechanisms to run their offices effectively and efficiently with all the departments needed for the smooth running of a corporate entity; including administration, operations, finance, logistics, protocol, public relations, human resources etcetera. It is therefore in that same way that the motivation, performance, efficiency and wellbeing of church office employees and active church members is not only essential for high job performance and the organisation’s success but mentally healthy members of the society.

It is therefore of grave concern that some church leaders and preachers of some of the renowned churches in Ghana have used their leadership positions in the church and church offices, to sexually harass church members and or church office workers. This is by no means an attempt to tarnish the images of church leaders and pastors as the Lord admonishes in the Bible “touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm” [ (KJV) 1 Chronicles 16:22], but to voice out the frustration, disappointment and near despair of a believer of the gospel of Jesus Christ. From Christian Ethics Today: “For years congregants and the wider community have assumed ministers are persons of integrity, worthy of respect and trust. Yet, from King David’s illicit affair with Bathsheba to Jim Bakker’s liaison with Jessica Hahn, the reputation of spiritual leaders has been tainted by sexual scandal. Most preachers begin their ministries with good intentions. Yet as they face sexual temptation, some succumb” (Christian Ethics Today). INTRODUCTION For many years people have developed a trust for church leaders and ministers, knowing they are a people of integrity, yet when issues of sexual harassment or an illicit sexual affair happens between a church member or worker and a church leader, it breaches and damages this trust. This paper attempts to look at some leadership behaviour and its impact on followers’ wellbeing and performance to establish that when church leadership engage in sexual illicit affairs with their church members and/or church employees (sexual harassment), it is detrimental and devastating to the victims, the perpetrators, their families, church communities and even to the society in which they belong. Sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favour (Miller & Jentz, 2000). In many cases, and as in the case of church leaders, the harassment occurs because the harasser is in a position of leadership or authority, giving them the necessary power to make harassment easier. Power, as Pfeffer defines, is “the potential Page 2 of 15 V.A. Cobbah – EMBA11120037

ability to influence behaviour, to change the course of events, to overcome resistance, and to get people to do things they would not otherwise do” (Pfeffer, 1992). Leaders are able to influence followers’ behaviour and when done unethically, as in sexual harassment, can be detrimental and...
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