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
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
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
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
Here are some negative and positive
suggestions for improving relationships with church
Things to Avoid
Avoid ambiguity or
Steps to Take
Cultivate a genuine desire to help people.
willingness to forgive people.
Adopt an attitude of
forgiveness toward people.
Learn to trust people.
Develop sensitivity toward people.
flexibility in dealing with people.
frustrations that come from relating to people.
Acknowledge your personal limitations in dealing with
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).