We all have people at church we love – and then there are the others. The people who are always critical. The ones who love you and can’t leave you alone. The person who always calls you on your day off. The leader who knows exactly what the church should be doing next – and it’s the opposite of your own vision.
Rather than lying awake at night, avoiding them or going head-to-head in a meeting, here is another option – pray for them. Here are five ways to try:
Pray for yourself in the way you relate to them. When we have an intense emotional reaction to someone, it’s as much about us as it is about them.
Simply mention their names to God. If your relationship with someone is extremely difficult, you may find it hard to pray for them. See if you can simply say the name as you pray.
Pray for them on the spot, when you meet them or are in a meeting with them and notice yourself reacting internally.
Set up a reminder to pray weekly or at least monthly.
Thank God for something—anything—about this individual. Then find something else about them to be thankful for.
You may never find it easy to relate to some people at church. Yet over time you can find your relationship with them is a little lighter. This is good for you, good for them, and good for the church.
Rev. Margaret Marcuson works with churches that want to create a ministry that lasts and clergy who want more impact on the people they serve best. She is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry (Seabury, 2009). She served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, Massachusetts for thirteen years.
"Many people in ministry are so afraid of conflict that they won't respond to e-mails or phone messages if they have an answer they think you might not like. So all you get is silence, which frustrates you and sets the stage for the …