- It makes them feel better
- It helps them "fit in"
- They want to share their "concerns"
- It is being done in an effort to "keep you informed" (which is what I will share about)
It's so funny how the enemy works, I haven't even been home from the convention for a week and someone felt the need to share "what they had heard" Wednesday night after youth group. It isn't anything I haven't heard already...Why students don't like me here, why our numbers are "dropping" since we went to a middle high/senior high format (which they aren't), and basically everything else I am doing "wrong" right now. It would be really easy to get discouraged and want to quit (like I felt before the convention), but for the first time I felt the Lord just surround me with the realization that it was just "words." Simply put, it doesn't matter. Also for the first time, I really felt like the Lord gave Meg and I the words to say back to this person in confronting these issues. It doesn't mean the words will stop-I am learning you just can't please everyone (which is hard for me-I am a people pleaser) and you can't reach everyone. So here are my thoughts on words-I don't know if they will work for you, but they are working for me:
- People are people-They are who they are and we can't change them
- Sometimes people do stupid things-Hey I'll be the first to admit I am guilty as charged, I can't tell you the number of times I have had to go back and apologize for the things I have said (sometimes unintentionally, but most of the time with the specific goal of getting back at them)
- "hurt" people hurt people-We all have tough times in our lives and what I have noticed is that we tend to want to hurt others when we are hurting (again guilty as charged). Each person who feels the need to criticize me right now is going through a tough time in their own lives and maybe I am just an easy outlet for them because they have some "control" over my situation as the youth pastor
- I can't change their minds-but God can. The only thing I can do is pray for the people who feel the need to put me down.
- They are just that, words and only that. They have no bearing on who I am as an individual or how my relationship with Christ is
- Anything coming from anyone other than the source is gossip, no questions asked. This person felt the need to tell us what was going on because she was "concerned" but it was her version of what was said. I know most of it is true because I have heard it from multiple sources, but only what comes from the source is really what was said
- They don't need to be heard-we asked this person not to come tell us anymore what people are saying because of how it has hurt us in the past. I welcome criticism and concerns, but only if they come from the source who said it.
About change and conflict:
- Change is necessary-be aware of when things need to be changed.
- Change is never easy- We have made changes in the youth ministry since we have been here. All of them have been prayed through and done with guidance from the youth leadership board and senior pastor
So of course the enemy would love for me to get discouraged, but I am just not going to this time. God is good and with His help we are going to make it through this. The people who are causing the conflict right now have been since we got here. I have struggled with how to love them from day one, but I think I finally know how. To use the overused Christian cliche I am going to "kill them with kindness." This Sunday I am very deliberately going to go to each of them, let them know I appreciate them, understand their concerns and am glad they are a part of our church. Even if they don't like me I can still pray for them and love on them like everyone else. I am not against them, I am for them-their kids are my kids and I do pray for them daily whether they realize it or not. The prayer is not that they will get on board with my vision, but that God will be very real in their hearts and lives and that He will help them with what they are going through.
So words are words, and with the Lord's help, the won't hurt me.
Trusting the Lord,