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Dealing With Difficult People In Children's Ministry

In ministry and in life you will inevitably have to deal with difficult people. Anyone who has been in children’s ministry long enough knows that working with difficult people just comes with the territory, from dealing with difficult volunteers, parents, church members, and more. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! The truth is, God doesn’t exempt us as ministers from trouble, trials, or challenges simply because we’re in ministry. In fact, he guarantees we will have our fair share of it!

Though difficult people may come, God wants us to position ourselves in such a way that we don’t allow ourselves to become angry, bitter, and resentful. I have met my fair share of ministry leaders who continue to harbor bitterness to this day because of how someone treated them in the ministry. In one instance, someone I knew harbored bitterness so long, that it wasn’t until the other person died that they were finally able to get over it!

When it comes to dealing with difficult people, it is vital that children’s ministry leaders not allow a person or a situation to make them so angry that it affects how they serve! You’d be surprised to discover how hurt feelings and residual grudges can linger in even the most mature leader when not dealt with properly. When people harbor hurt and animosity, the ramifications can devastate the children, families, and the department.

“The offense you hold today will sabotage your success tomorrow.”

The next time you’re dealing with a difficult person that’s pressing your buttons, try some of these tips below to help you stay ahead of any offense…

  • Be prayerful. We should always seek God before confronting someone else. You may discover that you are grasping at the speck in someone else’s eye and ignoring your own colossal log. Pray that God reveals any way that you may have contributed to the offense. Additionally, pray for God’s wisdom, humility, and compassion as you approach the conversation.

  • Stay calm. Always stay cool, calm, and collected! Trust me! Nothing closes hearts, minds, and ears faster than a hot head. Proverbs 15:1 -- “A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

  • Own your Actions. Be sober-minded about your own role in the offense. Even if you weren’t the aggressor, if your reaction wasn’t ideal, be prepared to acknowledge your own shortcomings in the encounter.

  • Timing is everything. These can be emotionally-charged conversations. You should be thoughtful as to the time, place, and temperament of the other person. Ideally, you will select a time and venue that isn’t prone to distraction, disruption, or other logistical complications. Similarly, you want to be sure that the other person is in a healthy emotional state to have the conversation.

  • Be forward-looking. While you need to address the wrong, you should focus on shared goals, areas of common ground, and hopes for the relationship’s future. If you desire to experience an improved working relationship, healthier ministry, or better communication, then root your conversation in that future state. Ministry leaders have a vision, and that vision should motivate both parties to want to move beyond the current offense.

  • Be led by love. Above all, allow the interaction to exemplify the love of Christ. If he was able to overlook the offense of the cross for the sake of love, we too could overcome any offense for the sake of his kingdom. Let Jesus be your model for effective confrontation.

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