If you’ve been serving in ministry for any length of time, then I’m sure you’ve had a woman who has gotten under your skin.
Sometimes I think ministry is designed more for us to learn and grow in Christ rather than it is to serve Christ. Or maybe that’s just been my journey because I feel like I don’t play well with others? 🙂 Hmm, maybe I should have titled this post, “How to Avoid that Woman at All Costs”?
I’ve got plenty of personal stories of how I’ve been hurt, irritated, frustrated, and bitter in ministry, but I’m not sharing my stories today. However, I have learned a few things while serving my Lord in the mission field that He has called me to, which happens to be to the Christian woman. So if you can read between the lines on this, then you can figure out that I get hurt the most, and my buttons are pushed the most by Christian women. However, I also learn and grow the most due to these experiences!
However, regardless of the lessons we can learn, sometimes serving in ministry with a difficult woman is just plain hard to handle.
Here’s one woman’s struggle…
I am very active in children’s ministry at my church and I know that personalities do not always mesh well. However, there is one woman in particular who is quite volatile. She is quick to boss others around, form snap decisions based on limited information, and is then quick to spread her false assumptions as well as her negative opinions of people. She yelled at someone the other day and insinuated that he/she was a terrible liar, over a simple mistake in communication! I try and show her grace, but at what point does one confront her? And whose job is it to confront her? Is it the offendee at the time or the children’s pastor?
Deep sigh on my part.
Whether you’re serving in Children’s ministry or some other ministry keep a few things in mind when dealing with people…
Not all personalities will mesh well.
Some people will just rub you the wrong way. (You haven’t met me in person!) When the personalities clash you need to learn to exercise self-control on your part and then extend grace, mercy and forgiveness to the other person. Learn to let things go and focus on pleasing the Lord in your walk and while you’re ministering to others.
However, not all issues in ministry are due to personality conflicts or a lack of social behavior.
Many problems in ministry are just straight up sin! The sin of pride is usually number one on the list.
The focus of the ministry often becomes about the person rather than about the Lord.
A person who is like this in ministry is usually an immature believer, so extend them grace because they need to learn how to grow in the Lord. Again, I believe a tremendous amount of spiritual growth takes place when one is serving in ministry.
Now let’s move on to the person who is showing no spiritual fruit while serving the Lord. This person may feel like she does no wrong and everyone else around her is completely inept. She is usually the one who bosses, lashes out, places blame, condemns, and criticizes others.
When dealing with a woman like this in ministry, I’d do a few things.
1. First, I’d try to be her friend. You never know where someone is spiritually or what they’re dealing with until you’ve spent some time getting to know them. You may even find out that she’s got too much on her plate to even be serving during this season of her life. Or maybe she has a hard time saying ‘no’ when others ask for help.
When serving with her, I’d ask her questions about her day, or ask if you could help lighten her load especially if she starts to complain about it. Prayerfully her heart will soften and she’ll let you in. Once you become friends then you’re in a better position to sharpen her and help strengthen her in ministry.
2. If and when she lashes out at you, I’d ask her if you’ve done something that has offended her. If she says yes, then make sure you apologize and let her know it wasn’t your intentions to hurt her. Then ask her how you can communicate or work more effectively with her next time to avoid this problem. You’re in essence putting the issue of her complaint in her lap. Now if you haven’t offended her, and she actually admits to that, then you’ve brought to light her issues without having to tell her so. This is a very polite way to admonish someone you don’t know that well. This approach gives her the chance to learn from her mistakes in how she’s treating others. Prayerfully she’ll get the hint. If she doesn’t, then apply the principles in Matthew 18.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matt. 18:15-17
3. When she’s complaining, criticizing and condemning others, please tell her you don’t want to hear about it. Your reasoning is because her words don’t bring any edification to the Body of Christ. Suggest to her that she go talk to the person who has offended her and seek reconciliation with them.
These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Prov. 6:16, Prov.6:19
4. Let your overseer know what’s taking place in the ministry because they need to be aware of the situation. They are placed in this position for a reason. Make sure you only share your part and not somebody else’s story and make sure your words are laced with grace and humility.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. Prov. 31:26
5. Remove yourself from the ministry. If, after all of your efforts there is no change in her behavior, then I would talk with your overseer and ask to be placed somewhere else to serve without having to deal with a difficult woman. Ultimately if this woman’s heart doesn’t change, then she’ll run others off as well! Of course this isn’t right, but unfortunately it’s not your decision. Your responsibility lies with trusting in the church’s leadership to handle this problem.
Sometime in the near future I’ll share more of my ministry stories, I promise! Like the time when I wished I had a pair of boxing gloves on while one woman pushed my buttons one too many times!
Now it’s your turn. Any other thoughts on how to go about handling this delicate problem? Share in the comments!
Live a poured out life for Christ,