HOW TO DEAL WITH PROBLEM PEOPLE
By Ken Blue
Every man appointed to the ministry is called to help people with their problems. You will encounter some people who cannot, or will not, accept any help from you. If the pastor takes note of the problems, he will find that all complaints are in a few categories. These will be about your leadership style, church policies and procedures, the budget, the doctrines you teach and your family. The good news is; most of the people in your church will never be a problem to you. In fact, they will be a blessing. So don’t spend all your time and attention on a few ornery souls.
The pastor must pray before acting or reacting to problems. In some cases it is wise to seek counsel from others. Some problems heal themselves; others are like a cancer and must be cut out. You need wisdom to know the difference. A wrong response can cause more trouble than the problem itself.
Most problems come from those closest to you. Some will come from a staff member or his unhappy wife. The church secretary or treasure can cause you grief. Deacons and their wives can be a problem. Also, an older pastor or missionary, who failed in the ministry, may be jealous and cause you misery.
The key to keeping discontent at a minimum with staff is to love them and spend time with them. See that their monetary needs are met, and acknowledge their children and their parents. Keep the channels of communication open by listening to their needs and concerns. You are their pastor also. It is best to hire people from within your church if possible.
The pastor must not be a bully or a lord over God’s people. He is their servant and must be of a humble spirit. But, humility does not mean weakness. There will be people who will challenge you and seek to intimidate you. Don’t show fear or weakness. They will not respect you. Rather, it will embolden the adversaries. You are the leader and must know where you want the church to go and how to get it there. When under attack, kindly, but firmly let the person know that God has put you as the leader of the church, and you believe your decision is His will. If he or she is not willing to follow your leadership, they need to seek a church where they will be happy.
Some people will attack your policies, procedures, and doctrines. If he or she is not willing to follow your leadership, they need to seek a church where they will be happy.
Some people will attack your policies, procedures, and doctrines. One solution to this is a new member’s class for all prospective members. These matters are covered in detail in that class. Have each new member sign the covenant before they join.
Not all complaints are from problem people. There are legitimate concerns and needs that must be addressed. It is your job to see that those needs are met. Be quick to help people with their ministry needs.
There will be some who will want to start private Bible studies in their home without your knowledge or consent. Meet with the leader and let him or her know all such meeting must be structured and monitored by the church leadership. One way to curb this is to start small group meetings in different homes. These can be supervised by a staff member and the materials can be provided by the church.
In time, entrepreneurial people will come to your church seeking new prospects. These will range from insurance salesmen to the Tupperware gang. I have no problem with any of these vocations, but those who merchandise church members must be confronted, and their fleecing of the sheep must be brought to a stop.
Many problem people have frustrated ambition. They want to be something or do something, and you are standing in their way. If you can find the problem and help, good; if not, ship them. Others are envious and want more attention. Also, watch people who cry easily. These people usually have anger issues and are explosive.
Someone has said small frogs look big in small ponds. Rather than killing the frogs, make the pond bigger. This is done by building your church attendance and membership. Seek young families and build with them.
Remember, not even the Lord Jesus could resolve all problems or satisfy all people. So, when dealing with any issue, begin with prayer for wisdom, seek counsel, and then move forward with your best judgment. That is the best you can do. Some will comply, others will leave. That is the way it is. You will learn along the way.
An important note: Stay positive in the pulpit and when talking with others. Magnify the blessings and goodness of God and minimize the negative. This will encourage your people and keep the trouble makers off balance.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.
Jason Murphy says
Pastor Blue thank you for these words of wisdom. This is a great reminder and will be a help to me and our church.
This is a big help. I just preached in a church that 1/4 of the membership withdrew over some “personal” attacks against the pastor who started the local church. This article will help save me from that.