How to Minister to People Who Don’t Like You

Eight tips to love the hard-to-love.
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2. Fortify with the Word. Scripture washes the mind and strengthens the heart. It is trustworthy and stabilizing. I learned that daily devotion is crucial in times of trouble, filling me with God’s truth.

3. Think before you react. My first instinct was to retaliate and speak to the entire congregation about the issue. I thought everyone knew about it and nobody defended me. I was wrong. It was actually only a small number of people involved. Through my mistake, I learned not to preach a fiery message accusing everyone. Instead, I’ve learned to slow down and get all the facts first. Plus, rather than try to defend myself, I’ve learned to let the Lord fight my battle.

4. Evaluate yourself. I learned to analyze complaints to see if there was any kernel of truth. Was I so busy that I had become inattentive, impolite, impatient, or unloving? Were the administrative duties of running the church eclipsing my responsibilities as a shepherd? I correct any fault I found on my part.

5. Hurt people hurt others. The spiritually immature, unethical, and malcontent are in every walk of life, and the local church is not exempt. I had to realize that hurt people hurt others and my position as the pastor did not prevent me from being a target. I learned to recognize that much of the time, people act the way they do out of hurt—even past hurt—and the issue isn’t always me.

6. Extend peace and forgiveness. Jesus lists the steps to take when your brother or sister sins against you (Matthew 18:15–17). First, talk to the person—just the two of you. Bring up the issue and own your part. If he or she will not hear you, try again with two or three others present. If the person still refuses to hear, tell it to the church. Forgive the person so that you can be at peace with God. Try to reconcile if at all possible.

7. Remember who called you. I had to remember who called, anointed, and appointed me. I said “Yes, Lord” to God, not to the people. My commitment was to him. He never promised me it would be easy. But it would be victorious if I relied on him. I learned to join David in proclaiming, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me” (Psalm 28:7).

July28, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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