“Beware of _____________. They run the church.”
I’ve heard the statement in various forms numerous times. Having been a pastor’s son, then a pastor, and now just an active member, I’ve encountered my share of those who attempt to create trouble in their respective churches. Perhaps because they simply enjoy the power play. Sometimes they have a long family history in the church and think this gives them special privileges. The pastor’s decisions may be uncomfortable for them. Or maybe because they’ve experienced unpleasant early life situations.
The apostle John was familiar with such a troublemaker. He refused to befriend other Christian leaders slandering them instead, refused to welcome traveling gospel preachers, and attempted to do away with those who challenged his leadership. I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. (III John 1:9 NLT)
Troublemakers in the church must sometimes be exposed for what they are. This may come through pastoral confrontation or sanction by another governing group.
But there are perhaps better ways to deal with troublemakers. First, I can refuse to imitate them. Whether their actions are sinful or simply disrupting to church life, I pledge to avoid their reputation.
I can also attempt to befriend them. Most troublemakers have a long history of ill winds in their past that help explain why they are the way they are. Sometimes they just need a friend. Since all people are created in God’s image and have possibility, troublemakers do as well. They simply need to channel their bad energy into positive avenues.
Finally—but certainly not of least importance, I can pray for them…that they would listen to the prompting of God’s Spirit and change their manner of conducting themselves.
Do you know a troublemaker? Make it your God-given project to befriend them and let your life demonstrate proper relationships.
Prayer: Merciful Savior, we pledge never to be what would damage the Kingdom work of Your church.
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