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What's New:

  • Leslie will be speaking at the Call To Peace Ministries. This is open to the public and you can learn more about this event here.
  • October is National Domestic Abuse Month. I made an entire page with free resources for you to use. Click here to see the entire list of resources.

Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

by Leslie Vernick

One of the ways bank tellers and merchants learn to distinguish real money from counterfeit is by examining genuine $100 bills over and over again so that they are more likely to spot the counterfeit bills when they see them. In the same way we can learn to recognize destructive people by knowing what to look for.

Some may object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental to call someone a wolf. Only Jesus knows a person’s heart so who are we to judge? Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers, they may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that there will be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9). Part of spiritual maturity is gaining the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why is this necessary? Because Paul reminds us that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Evil pretends to be good.

Sometimes we make a naïve assumption and it gets us into terrible trouble. We assume that if someone claims to be a Christian and talks like a Christian, that means he or she is a Christian.

That’s not true.

Just like there are counterfeit $100 bills that attempt to pass for the real thing, there are those among us who attempt to pass for Christians but underneath they are ravenous wolves. How do we tell the difference?

Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. A wolf can be an expert at talking like a Christian but when you observe his or her behaviors over time, they look more wolfish (aggressive). As the saying goes, the sweetest tongue often has the sharpest tooth. Here are three things to watch out for.

1. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. Wolves refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. You’ve heard the phrase lone wolf? Wolves in sheep’s clothing have themselves as their highest point of reference. They often use charisma and charm to “win” people over but they do not have mutual or reciprocal relationships. People are to be used, possessed, exploited, or controlled rather than loved.

2. Wolves look like sheep and talk like sheep but they bite like wolves, especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay “on top”. When operating in church or religious settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning to seem less aggressive. They don’t want to look like wolves, that’s why they pretend to be sheep.

3. Wolves are experts at deceit. That’s why they are successful at looking like sheep. Remember, even Satan portrays himself as something he is not – an angel of light. Wolves pretend to be good and care about the sheep but those closest to them (their family) know the truth. They’ve been bitten again and again and again.

But the wolf’s ability to maintain his cover is one reason why it’s so difficult for church leadership to believe the sheep (person) who has been wounded by the wolf. They fail to see him as a wolf and assume that it is just two sheep biting one another. Wolves have much sharper teeth and stronger jaws than sheep do. A sheep cannot harm a wolf. A wolf kills the sheep.

It’s interesting that God chose a wolf as a word picture to portray this type of real person. A wolf is a predator. It has a strong jaw and 42 sharp teeth designed to stab its prey to death.

Let’s not naively close our eyes and think that there are no wolves in our churches. They are everywhere.


Called To Peace

by Joy Forrest

If you or someone you love is in, or has been in an abusive relationship, this companion study to Called To Peace: A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Peace and Healing After Domestic Abuse is the perfect resource. The workbook is a gospel-based support group curriculum specifically for domestic violence survivors and has been powerful and life changing for many women.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” by Leslie Vernick are Mindy A. and Carlene G..



Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

New Hope Church

November 6th and 7th
East Lansing, MI

Center for Christian Counseling
May 2021
Madison, WI

Call to Peace Ministry Retreat
May 13 – 16th. 2021
Asheville, NC

The Village Church

December 3rd
Flowermound, TX

Is Staying Well The Best Option?

Question: Am I wrong to try to get well and stay well in a marriage that never was and looks to never really be any different? I know that I am not in complete control and that God is sovereign. I wonder if by staying, which is more in my comfort zone, as I have no income, that I’m not actually going against what God calls me to do? I feel a bit like a sitting duck just waiting for my official papers & replacement to ensue.

Answer: First, let me tell you something you probably have already heard before, but you’re struggling to believe it for yourself. You have value. Great value. Maybe not to your husband, but to God, you do. That has always been true and will never change. However, the person who needs to start valuing you more right now is not your spouse. It’s you.

You seem to be struggling with some hurts from your own parent’s divorce, which may cloud your ability to deal wisely and strongly with your current situation. Your husband has clearly told you he’s checked out of the marriage from what you have said. He’s said he doesn’t love you, nor does he want to be married any longer. His behaviors are consistent with those feelings.

You described him as an intimacy anorexic and completely shut down. However, from what you’ve said he does put a lot of energy into his relationship with your daughter. This could be healthy or not healthy; I don’t know. But you’re concerned that alienation has already begun.

What People Are Saying About Leslie’s Empowered To Change Group

“I Learned some valuable lessons. Knowing Core Values (who I am) is different than my fickle feelings and thoughts is huge for me. Avoiding ‘what if' thinking and ‘worse case scenario disease' will also be helpful to me. Difference between acknowledging and accepting is good for me to know. I acknowledged the problems 10 years ago, but have only moved closer to accepting in last year. Being responsible for my well-being is new to me. Giving up hope of change in my husband has come very slowly. Grieving currently as this is sinking in. Class helped me see a lot of things. Trusting God to work it all ‘into' me. I pray it will move me forward. I need hope for me and kids.”

~ Graduate of Empowered To Change


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States