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10 Rules for Respect

One way to build trust.

When I came to this church five years ago, many of my board members had grandchildren older than I was. Most of the rest had children my age. At age 23, I was their pastor. That was intimidating.

I was told by a mentor that I would have to have some rules of the road for communicating with my congregation. How would I get people so much older than I to talk to me rather than among themselves?

The list I drew up has evolved into ten principles that have transformed the way our church communicates. They now form a covenant signed each year by all the leaders, including me.

  • If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).

  • If I have a problem with you, I'll come to you (privately).

  • If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I'll do the same for you.)

  • If someone consistently will not come to me, say, "Let's go to the pastor together. I am sure he will see us about this." (I will do the same for you.)

  • Be careful how you interpret me—I'd rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.

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