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HELP A HURTING PASTOR
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TEACH LIFESTYLE STEWARDSHIP
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NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
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GET ALONG WITH MEMBERS
OVERCOME DISCOURAGEMENT
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How to Get Along with Church Members

How to get along with people cannot be fully learned from a textbook or in the seminary classroom. These skills must be hammered out on the anvil of experience. Here are a few basic principles to help any pastor with those all-important people skills.

Love and Trust People

Love and trust must be intentionally cultivated. Commit yourself as a pastor to approach your people, even the difficult ones, in this manner. Even though your attitude of love and trust may not always be returned in kind, your risk will be worthwhile. But how do you love the unlovely and trust those who are not always trustworthy?

Develop a healthy appreciation for others.
Perceive them as persons of worth. An attitude of suspicion is the only alternative, and suspicion is a waste.

Develop a healthy concept of God.
This will give you a proper perspective on your concept of self and others. If you, as a pastor, view God as primarily a God of wrath and judgment, this will be reflected in your concept of God. If the pastor recognizes God's attributes of love and forgiveness, the pastor's own love and forgiveness will be more apparent.
Develop a healthy concept of authority. It is much easier for a pastor to love and trust if he isn't obsessed with a need to control and manipulate.

Practice Honesty and Openness

An honest pastor is a man of integrity. The word integrity comes from the mathematical term integer, which means "whole or undivided." An honest pastor does not have many sides; he is a man of integrity.
Openness takes the pastor one step beyond honesty. Openness implies vulnerability.
Honesty and openness may sometimes carry risk in the church. The open, honest pastor may encounter people in his church who are disappointed when their pastor shows his humanity. These persons may be devoted to the pastor and love him until he shows his human side. Nevertheless, vulnerability is worth the effort for pastors who want to relate to members as team members.

Realize the Futility of Withdrawal and Avoidance

A pastor can learn to love and trust if he realizes the futility of withdrawal and avoidance. Some pastors practice this by moving to another church every time a difficulty arises. Others simply withdraw emotionally with almost the same result.
Here are some negative and positive suggestions for improving relationships with church members.

Things to Avoid

Avoid being judgmental.
Avoid hypercriticism.
Avoid unrealistic expectations.
Avoid ambiguity or inconsistency.

Steps to Take

Cultivate a genuine desire to help people.
Develop a willingness to forgive people.
Adopt an attitude of forgiveness toward people.
Learn to trust people.
Develop sensitivity toward people.
Maintain flexibility in dealing with people.
Deal with frustrations that come from relating to people.
Acknowledge your personal limitations in dealing with people.
Seek opportunities to develop close relationships with people.
Give some quality attention to getting along with people in your church. Through exhibiting love, trust, honesty, and openness, the pastor can create an environment in his church where close interpersonal relationships can develop.
(Adapted from Brooks Faulkner, Getting on Top of Your Work, A Manual for the 21st-century Minister, (Nashville: Convention Press, 1999).

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