Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How to deal with hurt from a church member

How to deal with hurt from a church member

One of the best things I did last year was to read through the Bible in a year, chronologically. It has been amazing! So amazing in fact, I’m going to continue to do it every other year.
I’ve truly learned so much about church history. I’ve loved learning about the Levities and the priest’s. I’ve come to consider them my “people”. They are who we started from. They are the first “ministers”, so to speak. I’ve loved reading about them. It’s weird to say this but, they were some messed up people. Seriously. Some of the time they had it together, and most of the time they did not. One of the leaders in the Bible that truly captured my thoughts was Moses. Man, he had it rough. I felt for Moses. He was stuck with these people who moaned and groaned at every turn. “I want to go back to Egypt”, “You don’t lead us the right way”, “We don’t believe you”.

When I came to the end of Moses’ life I felt like I had run a marathon. Some of things he had to endure would have driven me right over the edge. Numbers 16 is a prime example. When I read through this chapter I started to realize the type of leader Moses had become. I mean, take a look at him in Exodus 3 and 4. He protested against God for the calling on his life and then in Numbers 16 he is pleading for the lives of those who wanted him “fired”.
In verse 2 the “members” of Moses’ tribe decided that he just didn’t have the stuff to lead them anymore, that he had become too big for his britches and that they were going to bring him back down to their level. Korah, the leader of the rebellion decided to go straight to the top for his support. He gathered all of the prominent members of their assembly. Here is what he decided to use as his opening argument against Moses:”What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?” Here is where I realized the kind of great leader Moses had become, because had I been Moses this is what Korah and all his prominent members would have heard. “Are you talking to me? Is he talking to me? You did not just ask me if I thought I was greater. The right I have is the fact that I carried your sorry little rump all over this desert for the last several years, listening to your whining and crying about we have no food, we have no water, and we should have just stayed in Egypt.” (As you can read, I’m trying to work on my mercy skills)

I believe Moses was transformed as a leader because he learned how important people are to God. He learned that God’s character is shown to the world by the way we represent Him. It does not specifically say this in the Bible. These are just my “in between the lines” thoughts.
We are all going to face opposition from church members. They are going to cast doubt on our husband’s, our lives, our choices and our abilities. I think that is just a part of leadership. So what do you do when the people you are leading turn on you? I think we have to keep a few things in mind.

1) They have doubts just like us. I think it is in everyone’s nature to question the events and people that surround them. Be patient with your people and give God a chance to mature them in their faith of who He has placed in leadership above them.

2) Sheep are stubborn creatures. Did you know that if you leave them out in the rain they will probably drown? It’s true and so sad. That’s why they need a shepherd. I imagine some of them even bite their shepherds hand when he is trying to bring them into a place of safety. People are the same way. They are going to lash out at whoever is the closest to them. Don’t let their words control who you are. Learn to let go.

3) We all have a choice to make. Dr. Viktor Frankl was a holocaust survivor. He lived by a simple principal, “Your ability to succeed in life often comes down to a single choice: how you react to what has been done to you in the past, or is being done to you in the present”. Make the choice each time you are hurt to forgive. Make the choice to look at them through Christ’s eyes. He would look past the hurtful remark straight to their heart. What is going on in their life right now that would cause them to react like that, and what can I do in this moment to bring them closer to God?

Remember, God has entrusted you with these people. They are your sheep. Tend to them. Bandage your hand when they bite you. Pick yourself back up when they knock you down and lead them to safety.

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