The other day a friend of mine has asked about my preferred way of ‘handling’ a situation in which one of the members of my congregation comes to me complaining about another member regarding something they might have said/done and hurt them.
Here are some of my thoughts (so far…always work in progress). Although it seems a little bit like a system – it is meant to be much more ‘fluid’ and primarily relational. It goes without saying that it must be coupled with an attentive ear to God’s voice.
- Is it necessary to hear all this? In fullness? Is this person a ‘complainer/stirrer’ – do they permanently fall out with others? Do they have a negative attitude? Although that doesn’t mean their complaint must be dismissed – that must bring some filters perhaps.
- Is it accurate – are they telling the truth? Are they ‘filtering’ the information because of their background, former traumas or relational difficulties?
- Is it the right time/place/means for me as a pastor to hear this issue? Is it urgent? Is to be done face-to-face?
- Is it essential for me to be involved? Should/can they ‘sort’ it out themselves? Beware of you becoming a middle-person because of their unwillingness to humbly and graciously confront one another – Matthew 18
- Is the Bible addressing the issue? Read about what it says and have a Biblical viewpoint prepared – if possible. See Colossians 3:12-15; Romans 12:18
- Is my heart right – Matthew 7:1-5? Am I objective? Have I sought God’s wisdom? Have I prayed about the people, the issues, myself?
- Courage – nobody likes confrontation but often it is necessary in solving a problem: Acts 6 – by dealing with issues we demonstrate leadership, courage, wisdom and…love (yes, love). See also Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-3
- Compassion – the goal should always be healing, restoration and redemption. We must be clothed in humility, patience, grace and love as we engage with those in conflict.
- Communication – this must be done as clearly, honestly and politely as possible. Though feelings cannot be detached from the facts – objectivity is essential.
- Community – we must show the parts that this affects not just them personally but even families and the entire Body of Christ. There is more to us than just ‘me’.
- Christ-centredness – always seek to bring Jesus, His teaching, example and sacrifice in the issues involved? How do they relate? What did Jesus say? What please Him?
I am not suggesting this to be a model. It’s just the way I would go about it…. Please feel free to add your own perspectives and questions…