Conflict and Criticism

thConflict and criticism.

Those are two subjects every pastor and his wife face.  Whether it’s a misunderstanding among church members, a misconception from a guest, or a disagreement with the programming of the church, those of us in ministry leadership manage disgruntled people and grievances on a regular basis. In addition, we counsel countless people through their own quarrels and squabbles.

In short, we better have a clear understanding on conflict resolution and peace making.

But, sometimes we come up short, don’t we?  At times, it becomes personal. Our emotions come into play and it is difficult to see another person’s perspective.  Oh sure, it’s easy when we’re advising someone else on their issues.  But, responding when we’re the ones feeling attacked?  Well, that’s when the rubber meets the road, isn’t it?

I recently received an email from a pastor’s wife seeking advice for a misunderstanding in her church.  She described an angry email from someone who had recently attended her church.  The email depicted the people of the church as unloving and not compassionate.  It turned out that the writer of the email was not only a visitor of the church, but also the sister of a church member who often expresses her own negative views.

Needless to say, my friend disagreed with what she read.  She knows her church to be considerate and helpful….not at all the description of the email. Her dilemma, however, was how to respond.  Defend her church in a quick reply? Make a phone call? Schedule a meeting? Or, ignore the email altogether?

Sound familiar?  Have you dealt with similar situations in leadership?  I bet you have. Whether the issue is monumental or inconsequential, our responses matter. So, I shared my thoughts with this fellow pastor’s wife….and I’ll share them with you, too, tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear what you’d advise.  What would you suggest our friend in leadership do – respond or ignore?  Maybe we’ll assist each other in the process for the next bout of conflict or criticism WE face.

So, let’s hear it? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

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3 thoughts on “Conflict and Criticism

  1. I think a short, kind, hand-written note is best in reply to a negative comment from an “outsider”. Keep it really simple, acknowledging the way the person feels. Express that, while your church desires to be helpful to all, no church can serve people perfectly. Invite the person to give the church another try. If they continue to gripe, don’t reply…you tried!

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  2. Rob Cizek says:

    I typically will respond to negative letters/emails provided that they are not anonymous. In this case I might write:

    Dear ____,

    Thank you for contacting me and for sharing about your recent experiences at ___ church.

    It pains me to hear your experiences weren’t good ones. I know how much our church tries to connect people in relationship. Obviously we weren’t successful in your case.

    If you still desire to be part of things here, I will personally try to connect you with a group where you can make relationships and grow spiritually.

    If you’re past that stage with us, I understand. However I strongly encourage you to be part of a church where you are challenged and growing. I would also be willing to recommend some other churches in town where you may be able to better connect.

    Let me how i can best help. Thank you again for contacting me.

    Blessings,

    Rob

    Many times people simply need to be heard. A response like this demonstrates you care without arguing.

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  3. Rob Cizek says:

    I typically will respond to negative letters/emails provided that they are not anonymous. In this case I might write:

    Dear ____,

    Thank you for contacting me and for sharing about your recent experiences at ___ church.

    It pains me to hear your experiences weren’t good ones. I know how much our church tries to connect people in relationship. Obviously we weren’t successful in your case.

    If you still desire to connect here, I will personally try to connect you with a group where you can make relationships and grow spiritually.

    If you’re past that stage with us, I understand. However I strongly encourage you to be part of a church where you are challenged and growing. I would also be willing to recommend some other churches in town where you may be able to better connect.

    Thank you again for contacting me.

    Blessings,

    Rob

    A reply such as this shows that you care without arguing. Many times people simply want to be heard.

    Like

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