Dealing with the Porcupines in Your Church

Tuesday Re-mix – 

David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. II Samuel 16:11

Every church has porcupines.  You know, the ones who are just painful to love,  no matter how hard you try.  My church has them and so does yours.  These are the negative folks, the naysayers, the angry, bitter people who have the spiritual gift of voting “no” to everything.  And if you are a leader in your church, you are one of the ones who gets the “privilege” of dealing with them on a regular basis.  You may even be one of the targets of their occasional fiery quills.  If so, then this post is for you!

David had more than his share of them.  One of them was a Benjamite man named Shimei.  A member of Saul’s family (the former King, for whom David was a real thorn in his side), Shimei came on the scene cursing David right to his face.  And when David’s “entourage” started to step in, David stopped them.  David determined that, as long as there was even the slightest possibility that God might be speaking through this man, he (David) would listen.  David got it right that day (never mind what he would later say on his death bed about Shimei).  He demonstrated how we must approach even the most painful people in the church…with a willingness to hear God speak through them.

It would have been much easier for David to just let his lieutenant deal with this difficult person or, easier yet, just ignore the person.  And that would be the easier course for us as well.  Maybe we should just “consider the source” and move on, ignoring the porcupine.  And that would be OK, unless of course your call to leadership INCLUDES giving leadership to that painful person.  Then, ignoring him/her, though perhaps the easier option, suddenly does not feel so right.

The more difficult course is learning to recognize Christ in that person, i.e., learning to hear and see the good in him, even when he is being difficult.  The more difficult course is learning to take a deep breath and temporarily put up with the painful quills of an angry person in order to try to see beyond his/her anger to the root cause, the thing causing the pain in the first place.  The more difficult option is to love that person, even though it is painful to do so.  Mind me, you do not have to like that person…but you are supposed to love him, i.e., figure out his deepest needs and move to meet those needs.

If God has placed a calling on your life to be a leader in the church, then face one reality right up front: you will get hurt by people, especially when they themselves are hurting.  Welcome to ministry.  But a call to lead them is a call to love them…quills and all.

That’s a tall order!  Awfully difficult!  But hey, if leadership were easy, everybody would be doing it, right?

© Blake Coffee
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One response to “Dealing with the Porcupines in Your Church”

  1. Ouch. I’m grateful for David’s example so often, but this one …. ? Two porcupines whose prickles I’ve been avoiding do need love. Mine? And how? Not a leader, just a friend, but thanks for this challenge.

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