The Aquarian Tabernacle Church: A World-Wide Wiccan Ministry

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Leadership Lessons - The Church Antagonist

If you run a church, or lead any group, you will eventually find an antagonist. Antagonist is defined as a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary.

The antagonist is the principal source of conflict for the protagonist. Often, the antagonist is a bad guy, a villain, but he doesn't necessarily have to be. He may just be someone who has a different agenda. Antagonists might be one person, a group, or even an animal.

In Paganism, having an antagonist as irritating as it might be, is a badge of honor amongst pagan leaders and means you've actually 'made it' as a leader. The saying "If you don't have 'haters' it means you're not doing anything important" holds true here as some humans become jealous of anyone that gets ahead on a project that they feel they themselves should have been successful at but weren't.

Antagonists aren't necessarily bad - in many stories, the protagonist would have never grown without the actions and the push of the antagonist. In cases of leadership, many people want the position for themselves, while others genuinely believe that they could do a better job or that they have an idea that will better help others. Those who want the leader's position will hope to derail the leader from success and elevate to the leader's level by drawing attention. Those who genuinely care will go out of their way to talk to you and help make changes for the better instead of derailing and rallying the entire community's focus.

If you encounter an antagonist, you might be embarrassed and feel like you have done something wrong or have something to hide. On the contrary reach out to the other leaders in your peers circle, they will congratulate you on making enough waves to get noticed and give you some helpful hints on how to remove these people from your circle.

Also, remember that all publicity helps you. The people that listen to the antagonist and agree with them, will get out of your way, and the people that don't, will be on board with your mission and calling.

Everyone has their own agenda. Different agendas aren't bad, they just aren't yours. Don't let someone derail your group, just because they have a different idea. They can go form their own group and serve people who want what they are offering. Don't worry about who they take with them. There's room for everyone that wants to serve and the vacancies will leave room for you to give attention to those who share your vision.

Groups that form solely out of spite for you do not have a mission statement that will last. But while they do last, they will be your best advertisement. People will listen to the drama, and go check you out. Some people will be swayed by the gossip and believe it, but the people that you want in your church will be repelled by it, and decide to investigate you. They might even join when they didn't plan to, because they want help defend against what they see as someone attacking the Goddess' work. Either way, as long as it's professional jealousy, you win.

Stick to doing your work. Don't let detractors derail you, unless they have a good point. Your critics might be right, and if they are listen and learn. But, if they are just mad at you because you didn't let them steal, cheat, gossip, derail, or otherwise stir up negativity, then just know that's human nature and keep going.

And remember what Archpriest Dusty Dionne says: Positive or Negative, the energy you feed something is worship.

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Rt. Rev. Belladonna LaVeau is the ArchPriestess of Aquarian Tabernacle Church and Dean at Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary. A Navy Veteran, Mother of three, and Spiritual Counselor; Bella is a 10 year veteran of full-time Wiccan ministry. Her current passion is to create a benefits package for Wiccan Clergy to help provide the resources for groups and leaders to be successful in their ministry.      


  • Mark Green
    Mark Green Friday, 24 July 2020

    I can think of multiple cases where the agenda of the "leader" in the Pagan community is the problem, not that of the antagonist, who is often someone calling bullshit about abuse, gaslighting and narcissism.

    The advice here is exactly the opposite of what I would advise such "leaders".

    I would advise them to look in the mirror and clean themselves up.

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