My Elijah List Experience
- Elijah List Intro: Prelude to My Story
- Elijah List 1: In the Beginning
- Elijah List 2: First Impressions Crumble
- Elijah List 3: My Experience with Todd Bentley
- Elijah List 4: Dismantling the Wall
- Elijah List 5: Mortar in the Wall
- Elijah List 6: Wicked Roots
- Elijah List 7: Lack of Discernment Has a Price
- Elijah List 8: The Next Generation
- Elijah List 9: My Way Home
- Elijah List 10: Post-Prophetic Rehab – How to Get Back On Track
Many of the following things that I have learned happened simultaneously. It is difficult to get this chronologically correct, so I ask that you bear with me. Life was somewhat of a blur during my time at the Elijah List, but I am going to do my best to be as precise as possible.
After the twin towers fell on 9/11, traffic to the Elijah List site, as well as subscriptions to the Elijah List newsletter, increased dramatically and as a result, so did the workload. I was on call 24 hours a day for a few years after that and, although I did get paid for my labor, the demand from Steve (the founder of the Elijah List) was completely unreasonable. If he called and I didn’t drop what I was doing immediately and fulfill his request(s), I knew I would get a guilt trip in the email before the day’s end. I even remember one day, when I was in the shower bathing my dog, covered in dirt and hair, he called wanting me to check something on the web site. I asked him to wait 10 minutes so that I could get cleaned off, and he had the nerve to get upset about it because I didn’t “jump”.
This kind of behavior was a continuous problem throughout the 7 years and didn’t just affect me, but other Elijah List workers as well. Along with other types of mind games, I was called “rebellious” and “insubordinate” on a regular basis. And I found this very strange, because all of my prior bosses felt that I had been very easy to get along with, and that I followed orders great! In fact, my boss from my subsequent job asked me, “Where is your confidence? You don’t speak up and you act like what you have to say has no value.” I literally had to re-learn how to become a contributing part of a normal work discussion. The emotional and spiritual “beat down” of the prior 7 years at the Elijah List had left me demoralized, timid and quite pathetic.
Obviously, working in these circumstances put a strain on my personal life, as well as my marriage. I began drinking a lot and being verbally and emotionally abusive to my wife and kids. I’m not going to point the finger and blame Elijah List for all of my personal troubles, a man will stand by his own decisions and actions, but I do know that a man’s job can affect all areas of his life … I guess that I’ll just let it rest at that.
I just thank God for His mercy to me. When I came to my senses and realized how I had been treating my wife and children, I sat my wife down and profusely apologized to her for how I had taken her for granted and spoken so abusively to her; tears welled up in her eyes. She told me that she had been planning to leave me that very day, but because I repented to her she would stay. We have been inseparable ever since (we’ve been married 17 years now) and I still love her (and my kids) to pieces.
Believe it or not, I don’t have an offense against Steve – I’ve forgiven him. But, in my opinion, if someone who preaches “grace and mercy” from a pulpit and (from their own mouth) bases their entire ministry on it, they need to walk accordingly in “real life”. If you speak of “grace and mercy” from a podium, and yet are rude, obsessive and controlling to your employees, this obviously reeks of hypocrisy and is a far cry from the grace that you preach (more on this “grace” later).
Elijah List Gets A New Look
At about this time, I noticed that companies, businesses and other web entities started to come out with HTML-based emails. This would give more of an aesthetic value (structure, images, color) to an otherwise drab text-based email. Wanting to keep up with the trend, I did some research and came up with my own simple template for the Elijah List newsletter, hoping to give the readers something nicer to look at. There was even a small right-hand column to put special notes, links and maybe an ad or 2 to help increase income.
The very same day that I created the modest template, I was told by Steve to take advantage of every available space and fill it with product ads. Knowing that this would do nothing to improve public perception of the Elijah List, I was very disappointed. But, despite the fact that we had many negative emails from subscribers who didn’t like the change, income actually did increase dramatically. In my opinion, at this time, an increased income began to be perceived by Steve and others as proof of God’s favor. Within a few months, we were sending out 3-4 emails per day, peppered with ads in every available space – only 1 of which would contain any “word” from God.
Mammon and the Fear of Man
With the increased subscribership and the increased income came an increase of contacts from other “prophetic” people who wanted the Elijah List to release their words to the burgeoning Elijah List audience. As a result of exposure through the Elijah List, the “prophetic” people could (potentially) increase their web traffic and, if they had written a book or had a teaching/music CD, increase their income as well. As a result, the product inventory grew immensely and Elijah List sales skyrocketed proportionately.
But, along with the increased contacts and income, came the Fear of Man — in epidemic proportions, and just like the Bible said, it brought a snare (Pr. 29:25). Wanting to keep the income steady and wanting to stay in our contributor’s (the other “prophetic” ministers) and the public’s good graces, most publishing decisions were based upon our relationship with these people and the public perception of their product…. whether or not it sold well.
Occasionally, a contributor would send us a “word” with content that didn’t necessarily jibe with the Elijah List’s “encouraging words only” philosophy. Trying to stick with the “encouragement only” philosophy, Steve would have to write introductions (sometimes 3-4 paragraphs long) to the words and try to “play down” the corrective/repentance-based element of the email. There would usually be an effort to direct people to God’s “softer” side. Occasionally, certain “offending” sentences in the submission would be completely re-worded prior to release. These subtle, and sometimes flagrant, manipulations would usually upset the contributor, especially the more “idealistic” ones.
The last time I checked the Bible, a prophet was told not to regard man’s opinion and give the Word of God…. Undiluted.
It became clear to me that, during this phase, the focus had shifted. Mammon and the Fear of Man had become the “god” of the Elijah List. I say this because, from what I experienced, every effort was made to make more money and to please man. Words were released based upon the popularity of the contributor and the profit to be made from the products they sold — not on the truthfulness or relevance the words held.
The Bible says in Galatians 1:10 that you cannot please man and be a bondservant of Christ. It also says in Matthew 6:24, that you cannot serve both God and Mammon, it’s impossible to have love for both … you MUST love one and despise the other.
Let me be clear … I don’t feel it’s wrong necessarily to make money even in a ministry. People need to pay the bills and the staff. It’s when money becomes the “main thing” that God’s heart is grieved. When you come to a point when your “ministry” becomes all about the money you need to question 1) your personal walk with God and 2) whether or not it is God’s will for your ministry to exist at all.
For the Love of the Search,