Last week we started a new series on how to deal with difficult people (you can read part one by clicking here) because it is something that I am asked about a lot as a pastor. It’s also something I seem to have gathered a bit of experience in through the years.
Last week we discussed to know when to fight. Today, I want to help you know when to make that decision. I am going to teach you something that will help you a great deal, it is this: you cannot correct immaturity.
If a two year old is having a tantrum, you cannot have an adult conversation with them about priorities and good decision making priorities. You can only feed them, nurture them and wait for the day in which they mature to that level.
Pastoring and leading, and any form of dealing with difficult people, is the same. Most people in the average church are very immature. They get upset by little things. They make decisions based on base emotions, not spiritual wisdom. They don’t let the Bible get in the way of what they believe. If as a pastor or elder you tried to correct everything, you would just make the tantrums worse, run people off and cause a great fuss. You have to learn how to feed people without correcting them when they are too immature to correct.
It’s not easy – you need patience and you need wisdom, and you need to know what is important and what is not. This is possibly one of the trickiest things you will ever do. You will need to understand jurisdiction (for my messages on this, please have a look at gatesofthecity.net from this year’s conference) and understand how to build a culture of honour.
Here are 5 keys to help you navigate this difficult terrain:
- When people storm off, don’t chase them. The father never chased the prodigal son but waited until he grew up and developed the maturity to come home. Some people will get annoyed at you for all sorts of reasons, let them go.
- When people are upset for silly reasons, it can often be easy to placate them. A dear friend of mine was called by a pastor who was in terrible distress as his keyboard player would not move to the other side of the stage to play due to the plug socket placements. There was almost a riot in the church. The simple solution was an extension lead.
- When people are upset for silly reasons, that is a massive wake up call that you need to start maturing them. Start working your way forward with them, showing them that the love that God has for them has to flow through them.
- Create a progressive culture. This means you focus on the leaders and those who are superstars. Don’t spend all your time with the people who are easily offended and immature. Let them know to fit in with your church, organization, business that they need to get with the programme and grow up.
- Gently push people into a walk with the Lord – a life of prayer and spirit. Don’t be afraid when you see people making a silly decision, rather than correct them, ask them: have you prayed about this? What Scriptures are you basing this on? What does the Word say? Bring people back to Christ.