Bill Gothard’s 21 Steps to Conflict Resolution

by on March 20th, 2014

Since Bill Gothard resigned I have had a number of emails and phone calls asking if I thought his resignation is genuine or if he will return or try to return to the helm anytime soon? It is a good question. This week IBLP issued an official IBLP Statement Regarding Resignation. The statement leaves the door wide open for Gothard’s return while announcing the appointment of Dr. Tim Levendusky as the interim president. Will Gothard return? Honestly, I do not know. In making in informed guess, we need to know something about the person and how they have acted in the past as well as how they handle this sort of conflict. I went back to the archives and pulled out the list of “Bill Gothard’s 21 Steps to Conflict Resolution” which our friend and Advisory Board member, Pastor G. Richard Fisher (Ret.) developed and we had included in our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life. Any who have attempted to confront Bill Gothard in the past will recognize these steps:

1. Initially shift blame – don’t answer charges – maybe it will go away.
2. Offer less than acceptable solutions.
3. Slander the opponent – lay charges – suggest ulterior motives.
4. Offer a meeting – muddy the waters before with other issues – make more accusations – generate many letters to further obfuscate.
5. Finally have a long drawn out meeting for hours and hours to exhaust everyone and wear them down.
6. Bring up issues of new revelations and discoveries
7. Further discredit key players.
8. Deny blame – accuse others.
9. Have another meeting but lay down rules to really control and thwart solutions
10. In the long meeting – he steps back goes silent – gives appearance of deep reflection – makes general concessions he will not keep.
11. Sends more letters to accuse.
12. Manipulates authorities around solution and plays politics.
13. Generates more paperwork to further obscure, confuse and ignore any former commitments to fix anything or change.
14. Fall back on the notion that he is under God’s orders and answers to a higher authority. Now we are dealing with God! God’s blessing and increase on his work are the obvious signs and proofs.
15. Make further phone calls to wear them down.
16. More letters “you hurt us and God’s work” – wear ‘em down grind ‘em down.
17. Threats of disaster on you!
18. Now out of “deep concern” you are warned of the dire consequences – David and Saul – Ananias and Sapphira. Prov 6:19 in a pinch – what God hates – You are at fault – it is all you.
19. I will meet with you for your welfare only – grind them to powder.
20. Admit along the way – to the staff – a tiny infraction to do damage control and explain away problems. – this is also great for the appearance of deep humility and repentance – “I practice what I preach AND LIVE BY MY OWN PRINCIPLES”.
21. Keep attacking opponents behind the scenes spread rumors, “I tried everything”. Pull away – cut losses.

This is a fairly accurate description of trying to address false teachings and bad behavior with Bill Gothard over the years. I recently had an email from a former staff who indicated that someone has been in contact with him claiming that Bill wanted to reconcile. The individual pointed out that Bill has his phone number and has known how to contact him for the last 3 plus decades. He then went on to ask her about the material on the Recovering Grace website. She said it was all untrue. Yes, this is typical Bill Gothard stuff.

In my opinion he will, probably very soon, attempt some sort of a comeback. Since we have not found Bill Gothard to be actually repentant or correctable in our dealings with him, and others that have gone before us shared the same experience, we find no compelling reason to think he will act differently at this time. What will make a difference is continuing to address this all in public view as we are told in 1 Timothy 5. The Board of IBLP will need to decide if they will follow and practice the biblical teaching on correcting leaders or continue in their defense of Bill.

One response to “Bill Gothard’s 21 Steps to Conflict Resolution ”

  1. Lynn says:

    Are there local support groups for ex-Gothardites anywhere in the country? I’d love to see an in-person (offline) ministry get started and spread, to address the damage caused by Gothard’s unique system of patriarchal/legalistic programming. No doubt there are many out there in need of a safe and supportive context in which to be restored in their minds and hearts, in their faith, and in relation to family members, and even in whole church bodies and community groups, but those who have not been through IBLP themselves are not likely to be as effective in helping. The system creates a set of complicated and very tangled webs that can be exceedingly exasperating to untie oneself and one’s loved ones from.

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