“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Matthew 5:43-48
Replanter, your vision is big. That’s why God called you to the church you are serving and that’s why you willingly chose the path of painful ministry–God called you to it. If you’ve been at the work for some time now you know that not everyone is excited about your vision and the future of the church.
- You want to get the church out of the building and into the community–some in your church may not want that–and they may not want those in the community in your building.
- You envision a vibrant, celebratory worship experience where people are moved by the Spirit through passionate singing and attentive listening to God’s word being taught–some in your church are a little miffed that the pianist of 40 years, who missed a few notes now and then, isn’t playing any more–instead of listening attentively and enthusiastically to your sermon, they sit there staring ice daggers back at you the entire time you’re preaching.
- You are passionate about updating the children’s area and adding secure check-in systems–something every growing church has these days. The elderly nursery and children’s ministry workers view your background checks and security tags as unnecessary and evidence that you really don’t trust them.
What is a Replanter to do in this situation?
Those most critical of your ministries and initiatives are no less deserving of the love God has called you to extend all church members.
How do you love a critic who appears to be rooting for your failure and working behind the scenes to frustrate you on a regular basis?
Pray for them: find out what concerns burden their heart, the names of their children or grandchildren and their practical needs. Pray for them, write them notes letting them know you are lifting them up in prayer.
Praise them: this one is a little more difficult; find a character trait, a way they make a difference in the body, they way they contribute positively to the mission and let them know you see it by thanking God for them and their service.
Be Patient: critics specialize in taking a lot of our time and when we get hooked by their criticisms we end up paying more emotional energy then being productive in ministry and mission. Be patient with them, take time to listen to their words, find the grain of truth in what they say and thank them and then move on. Always stop and shake their hand, hug them and let them know you are their pastor.
Replanter it’s easy to love those who love you and your mission, but Jesus calls us to a greater work of loving those who don’t love us back. He loves us that way, and for that we can all be thankful.
Published February 14, 2017