Dirty Little Secret of Ministry

The first article of 11 about high conflict people in church.

If you are a pastor then you already know.  Probably your family knows as well.  Maybe even a couple of your friends.

The good people in your congregation almost certainly have no idea how it is.  They don’t really see what your life is like or know the challenges you face. They don’t know the risks.   They don’t understand your life or your work.  And they don’t know this little secret.

So here it is.  I’ll say it out loud.  Pastors most often leave the ministry because of the difficult people in their congregations.

Sometimes they are worn out and other times they are forced out, but it adds up to the same thing.  They leave and they don’t return.

Pastors most often leave the ministry because of the difficult people in their congregations.

Now, it is true that all churches have difficult people.  That isn’t really the problem.  In truth, not all difficult people are difficult in the same way.  Most difficult people will be thoughtless, inconsiderate, immature, selfish, petty, needy, troubled, depressed, angry or addicted.  We expect these people to be in our church.  That is why we are in ministry.  These people are not the problem.

There are other people, however, that are difficult in another way.  They stir up trouble.  They fight.  They are mean and cruel.  They hurt people on purpose. They call you names and make up stories about you.  They talk behind your back.  They actively try to turn others against you.  They are planning to do you in, cut you off at the knees and force you out.  These aren’t your average everyday difficult people.  These are high conflict people.  These are the wolves among the sheep.

High conflict people have specific traits that arise from specific psychological needs.  Psychologists talk about personality disorders but we aren’t psychologists.  Not being professionals, because we don’t have the training, we can’t diagnose anyone.

But we can watch the patterns in a person’s life. These are patterns of dysfunction that are known and studied.  The actions of high conflict people can be understood and predicted and addressed.

The actions of high conflict people can be understood, predicted and addressed.

This is good news because ignoring the wolves or not understanding them will only hurt us.  Learning about them, what drives them and what they need and expect will help. Learning how to care for them, to be helpful to them, learning to love them, will be good for them and for you and for your family.

The dirty little secret?   High conflict people push pastors, priests, clergy and other ministers out of the ministry.  Given the opportunity they will make your life miserable.  Given the opportunity they will make your family miserable.  Given the opportunity they will destroy churches

Next Steps:
 What relationships are wearing you down?  Are you growing weary of the ministry? Are you thinking of leaving the ministry?  Take note of these things.  It is important to look at it all honestly.  Write about it.  Talk to a trusted friend.  Seek to gain understanding of your situation and how you feel about it.  It will be helpful to gain a new and deeper understanding before you take action.

Next Article:Seeing The Patterns

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