Pastors and leaders. How many of us have had one (or few… or an entire church) hate on us for no apparent reason? They critique everything we do or say. They try to undermine our authority. They are well frequent sippers of the haterade.
But. Pastors and leaders. How many of us have had parishioners, people that we just couldn’t stand for no apparent reason? We think that everything that they say is a waste of not only our time, but the very air they breathe? We don’t know why they are in our church or why they have a leadership position. Come next nomination meeting, we’re looking for a way for them to be gone, gone, gone.
Let’s be real. In ministry, we’re going to run into people that we don’t like and run into people that just hate the cut of our jib. (Can someone tell me what a jib is?)
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
My dad taught me something that I hope I never forget to do. He told me, if I just didn’t like a person in ministry, if there was a misunderstanding, if s/he said something I didn’t like, etc, instead of holding on to my anger and frustration, he said go take that person out to a nice meal and dine with the person. And that I pay. I added to that suggestion that I should do it twice.
One, sharing a meal is an intimate act. It breaks down barriers. Two, if I’m paying, I better make most of my time. Three, this meal isn’t to invite the person to blast him and be confrontational, it’s time to give the person a chance, and see if I misjudged the person. We believe in a God of second chances. They should be given a second chance with us, no?
Of course, after all your effort, you may realize that this person and you may never get along. But you may find that you can still respect each other, at least know his/her story and where s/he’s coming from.
But the thing is, you actually did something to attempt to improve the relationship, rather than make things worse.
Let’s face it. The easiest job in the world is being an Arm Chair Quarterback. And we already have way, way, way too many of those in all our lives.
It’s easier to let the hate fester, to let the anger grow, to let our discontent with the person be known to everyone, without ever trying to fix the relationship.
That hinders the church family. In the analogy of the Body of Christ, you end up becoming the cancer.
In Ephesians, it tells us to make EVERY effort to keep unity.
Being offended, telling everyone you can that you were offended and then holding a grudge… personally, I don’t think that’s making ANY effort to keep unity.
Sipping on the haterade, being part of the hater-nation, that’s the easiest thing we can do. Sitting back, questioning the person’s leadership, saying to people that you probably can do a better job, that’s the easiest route. And truthfully, the laziest route also. We have too many haters in our church, workplace… culture. We need more lovers…
You’ll be amazed at what you can learn when you drop your defenses and prejudices about the person. You may even be shocked to see that you may have many things in common with the person. Of course, this is far the harder and narrower road to take.
But Jesus says that life is found, not in the broad, open road, but the narrow one.