Church Leadership
10 Ways to Deal with Chronic Complainers In the Church
Small churches can be a magnet for chronic complainers. Here's how to reduce their negative impact - and increase the positive.

5. Don’t Magnify Their Importance

Don't assume a chronic complainer has more power than they have.

When a chronic complainer tells you “everyone says” something is a problem, it's likely that “everyone” who has a problem is standing in front of you.

Treat them with respect. But don’t buy into their exaggerated sense of self-importance.

6. Don’t Believe What They Say About You – Believe What God Says About You

Like the comedian who leaves the stage devastated because there was one person in the audience who didn't laugh, it's too easy for pastors to allow a single complainer to make them feel completely devalued.

Ultimately, there's only one opinion that matters. If God has called you, that's enough.

7. Don’t Talk Behind Their Back

It’s so tempting to want to complain about the complainers. And it’s a good idea to have someone you can offload to.

Sometimes the issue needs to be dealt with by deacons, elders or staff. But don't allow those discussions to become character assassinations. Deal with the issue. Then move on.

Keep the moral high ground. Don't let a complainer turn you into a gossip.

Keep the moral high ground. Don't let a complainer turn you into a gossip.

8. Don’t Use the Pulpit as a Weapon

It is a horrifying abuse of our position to use the pulpit to get back at chronic complainers – even if we wrap the message in proof-texts and don’t refer to the complainer by name.

Always resist that temptation. Once you give in, you will have lost more – far more – than whatever battle the chronic complainer wanted to draw you in to.

9. Admit Your Mistakes

It’s hard to admit mistakes to a complainer because we think it will add fuel to their fire. The opposite is almost always the case.

Sometimes the “chronic” part of the complaining is just persisting until they know you see the problem. Once you do, many stop complaining.

10. When They’re Right, Thank Them

When they’re right, they’re right.

If someone puts the brakes on your bad idea (we’ve all had our share of stinkers), they deserve to be thanked. And don’t worry. Thanking them won’t make them complain more.

Thankful leaders don’t get more complaints. They get fewer.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

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