Dealing With Difficult People At Church

No doubt we have all probably had to deal with difficult people at church.  The question is how is best to do it.  We don’t want the situation to escalate but sometimes it can’t be avoided.  I faced such a situation tonight.  I would appreciate any feed back on the way I handled it.

At my church there is a lady who always seems angry.  She is known to be quick with snide comments and to take everything personally.  Anytime a comment or decision is made that she disagrees with she takes it as a personal attach and is quite vocal about it usually.  My wife and I have been the target of her comments for some time now.  Tonight was another instance of her making a snide comment directed toward me and my wife and I decided I had had enough.  It was time to deal with the situation.

I will admit that I was very angry.  I decided that it would not be appropriate to address the issue with the lady unless her husband was there when I spoke with her.  I know that if another man was going to have words with my wife I would be upset if he did it when I was not there so I waited until they were both available.  We then went into a room where we had privacy.  I explained to the husband why I had asked for them to speak with me.  Then I addressed the issues directly with the woman.  I was able to control may anger (I don’t usually have a problem with that but I was not sure I would be able to do so before we began).  I chose not to beat around the bush…I explained what she had been doing and explained that I was no longer going to tolerate it.  I expressed that we needed to learn how to communicate together when we had an issue with each other instead of the snide comments.  I also explained that my desire was not to have divisions in the church because the church body would be hurt if that happened and the church was more important than our differences.  During the discussion the husband remained silent until the end and at that point my anger had subsided and we actually were able to reach an agreement (at least that is the way I felt…only time will tell if they felt the same).  We were able to pray together before we left.

Now for my questions.  How have you dealt with difficult people?  What did I do right and what did I do wrong?  We are fallen people so conflict is going to happen sometime but we must deal with it in a manner that does no damage to God’s family…if possible.  My desire is to learn from this situation and your advice so that I am that much more prepared the next time this type of thing is necessary.  I probably should have included my wife in the discussion…in fact I apologized to her for not including her once we got home and were discussing it.  Other than that, I am actually pleased with the situation.

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34 Responses to Dealing With Difficult People At Church

  1. You handled it better than almost everyone probably. Not showing anger probably went a long way. There is the occasional situation where demonstrating anger is helpful, but it was not here.

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    • Carolyn says:

      I continue to go through this constantly as the church organist. I am a coward…I am resigning. I am leaving the church. The woman who chides me and even tells me to ‘SHUT UP’ has all the money. She and husband are the pillars. She announced that she purchased the organ. If I were stronger I would stay. When she is mad she will not speak. If anyone approaches her she is defensive. I pluck out my eye by resigning.

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      • tabeth says:

        i think its best the pastor deals with these two early cause the church wont go anyway if you consider them because they have money…the church is the lords and he alone can take care of the needs of the church and therefor its better all they bought be given back to them and believ God for things from him….honouring rich people in church is dangerous even Jesus went on to say if a man comes in ur gathering wearing rich clothes and jewellery and you ask him to sit in the front seats and a poor man comes and you say you stand there havent you shown favouratism and isnt it the rich people who oppress you afterwards…

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      • Carol says:

        Carolyn, if you were (I notice the date) going to leave anyway, why not confront? You could do this in a controlled and calm way (well, nearly), especially if you first go to the pastor or someone in the church who can be there to support you. By doing this you may have some growth in how you deal with people and how you feel about yourself. Just curious how it turned out.

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  2. Tom says:

    Thanks, but I don’t know if I handled it that well. I should know within a few days. At this point I am just waiting to see how they are going to react. I suppose it could get ugly because this was the wife of our Chairman of Deacons.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t show anger…I did, they certainly knew I was upset. However, I was able to control it and I think that is what went a long way in defusing the situation.

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  3. Heidi says:

    So glad I found your post…I’m dealing with a similar situation right now myself. A woman in our church, who I’ve chosen not become friends with, sent me an attacking e-mail (because I’ve chosen to avoid her – just because of personality conflict). I chose not to speak with her about it over the phone or e-mail, and asked to talk with both she and her husband and my husband. It didn’t go that great. She was defensive and somewhat hostile. My husband prayed for us at the end. I talked privately with our Pastor of Family Life Ministries and we decided to write her an e-mail asking her to meet with us to discuss our unresolved issues. She has not responded (and refused this suggestion when I first introduced it at our meeting). Now, she’s carrying on her life at church (in some leadership roles) and I’m stuck feeling like this – it’s a hurtful pain. I know that I’ve attempted to handle things Biblically and it sounds like you did, too. I guess that’s all we can do. The Holy Spirit can be a great comfort to you in your pain – God Bless!

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    • This is so funny. I found this post and realize it has been 2 years since your last post. I too had several women distance themselves from me when I first came to my church 17 years ago. First I was very broken, going through a divorce, a recovering drug addict, not raised in church. So now looking back I realize what a mess I was and perhaps they too called it personality conflict.

      I on the other hand felt the deep pain of yet another rejection. Looking at myself and asking Jesus ‘what is wrong with me’. I have wrestled with this for years in the church. My husband is on staff in facilities. About 2 years ago, I healed enough that this type of behaviour is no longer a source of rejection. I too with my busy schedule find some people a little too much to handle. I am friendly but maintain boundaries. I learned a lot from the women who avoided me.

      For instance, I went to a pampered chef party and 2 of these ‘church ladies’ were there. I made several attempts just to say hi. They were so blatantly ignoring my presence that I made a polite early exit. I went home cried and prayed for them and still do when they come to my mind. I feel sorry for avoidant people. That type of behaviour is childish.

      God is more interested in how we treat others. ‘Personality conflicts’ should never get in the way of our ability to follow the first Commandment. Not first suggestion.

      I am now praying that the love of Christ will flood your heart and that He will free you from such a religious spirit and instead allow you the Grace to fully embrace the love He has for ALL people.

      Bless you on your journey,
      Lisa

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      • sincerely says:

        I can relate. Very frustrated right now.Dealing with these attitudes from a couple. I joined the church band, the Pastor was lead guitarist, I sang. I never had issues with him. He suffered a massive stroke, his wife used a new worship leader couple and I was still allowed to sing. But, once his wife and he took control, they showed arrogance, controlling, demanding behaviors and criticizing my singing methods, and now walk away when I am speaking if it doesn’t suit their liking. I neved took issue with my church but now not only do they do nothing, or say anything to these leaders, they tell me I need to be mature about things. I tried to confront these leaders and they just tell me that if I can’t get to church due to lack of funds, then it’s not their job to deal with my issues. I think this is extremely in mature, and not showing fruits of the spirit. I cannot even speak to anyone because no one cares how I feel at my church. Looking for answers but not finding them.

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  4. Tom says:

    Heidi,

    Unfortunately both parties in the conflict have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit before reconciliation can occur. I hope that this woman will seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that you both can overcome this situation and move forward together. We all have to remember that our purpose is His purpose and we are told in the Bible that one of the ways the world will know that we are His is by the way we treat each other.

    Continue to pray and trust Him in this situation.

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  5. Bezza says:

    Tom,

    It sounds as if you handled it extremely well. You were right to resolve the conflict and disperse the bitterness into the abyss. Being able to control your anger and not showing it is definitely living the word of God and evidence you are nourished with the fruit of the holy spirit. Unfortunately Tom you cannot teach an old dog new tricks (apart from the HS) so keep praying for the lady to strengthen spiritually and to walk the word of the bible more.

    I had a conflict with my head teacher last year who patronised, victimised me and monopolised the conversation to get the outcome she wanted. She was defending a teacher who was her best friend and would not accept any excuses I had to say. I expressed my opinions in a civil manner but she was very defensive and vindictive. She too was a christian but then again she is only human as well. Before I said something I was about to really regret I prayed to god to give me strength and I also resisted the devil’s temptation of spitting acidic words out of my mouth by converting it into polite responses, with help from the good ol’ HS. I prayed afterwards as well to relieve the anger and also went to the gym to release endorphins and then went to bible study, boiling out all the impure impulses of anger within.

    I hope the lady who is snidy will realise her mistakes and will change with a bit of help from God. I will pray for you, take care my fellow brother, gbu

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  6. Marilyn says:

    Tom, this is the words gave me when I was in the same situation. Use the word of GOD to destroy the spirit of anger, shame, condemnation in others at church. Love and compassion goes deeply than you can imagine. God bless!

    NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST YOU SHALL PROSPER
    Isaiah 54:17 – 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
    and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children.

    14 You shall establish yourself in righteousness (rightness, in conformity with God’s will and order): you shall be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction, for you shall not fear, and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

    15 Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.

    16 Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals and who produces a weapon for its purpose; and I have created the devastator to destroy.

    17 But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. Isaiah 54:13-17

    When you establish yourself in righteousness, conforming yourself to God’s will and purpose in every aspect of your life, God will pour out all His precious promises onto your life. Those who yield to the will of God and who establish themselves in His righteousness have no reason to have any fear at all. The Lord says that you will be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction and from terror. He says that it will not come near you. Even if people stir up strife against you, you don’t need to worry because the Lord will cause you always to triumph—He says that those whose rise up against you will surrender to you.

    The Lord says that NO weapon that is formed against you shall prosper! EVERY tongue that shall rise against you—you will show to be wrong! There is nothing that you need to do to defend yourself. All you need to do is to be yielded to the Lord, believe His Word, and trust completely in Him. Be a DOER of the word. ACT on God’s Word. Walk in the LOVE of God. He will take care of everything else.

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    • sincerely says:

      Yes, I need to remember this. But also, I am afraid to discuss my concerns with my arrogant leaders after already not getting along.

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  7. lakeisha says:

    i believe you handled the situation well, you did not bow down to her you were straight to the point. dealing with people in the church can be hard. Especially because thats were some go to find a sort of escape from the people from the world, and if you find a sister or a brother in the church that acts worse or equal to someone out there, than what are we in it for? I think that God gave you divine wisdom on how to approach the situation, I can tell you sought him before you approached her because he was with you. I hope she will change her ways and consider other peoples feeling before she opens her mouth.

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  8. Paul says:

    Very good. I guess I have my situations in church that I must confront also and I am not looking forward to it.

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  9. Chuck Geer says:

    Tom, I think that you handled this situation quite well. You were angry, but as best as I can tell, you did not sin. Sometimes, God does require us to be angry; else, we allow evil to dominate in a situation.
    It is also good that your church has at least a modicum of spiritual maturity. I was part and parcel of one that didn’t for 15 years of my life! I would not have stayed there for as long as I did, but the best years of my life were spent there. Anyhow, the political atmosphere had become highly poisoned. That church had three (3) major power struggles in the 1990’s, most of which ended up in the removal of the incumbent pastor. At one point in time, the pastor and one of the members of his council were at each other’s throats! I was SO glad to leave that church in the summer of 2003! This was a church in which people in large part refused to forgive each other!
    I’m sorry that I was so long-winded, but I had to get that off my chest!

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    • Bro. Dan says:

      Chuck, I would almost say I am at that church now. It’s a sad situation. I’ve been here 7 years and lately things have heated up again with a lady who has some kind of problem with control issues. She wants to do things her way and she wants to be in charge. It’s sad and the folks can’t deal with it and don’t know what to do. Recently our Sunday School director blew up at her. It was sad. I now have to talk with him. I am about to lose it.

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  10. Ronald says:

    As far as I can tell, you handled it pretty well. While it would be nice to not display any sort of anger at all, we are after all human beings who fall short of God’s glory. As such, holding all of that anger in and not show it is very tough to do if even psychologically possible. From a psychological point of view, if you just bottle your anger, you will just continually dwell on that, which God most certainly don’t want us to do that, as that would mean we would not forgive who ever caused such issue. Not only that, but one of the problems I have had with the Russian Orthodox Church, they want you to remember every single sin you have committed from the time of your previous confession to the time of when you confess your sins next. The problems I have with that, 1) it doesn’t allow for true forgiveness as we all make mistakes, but yet, we should just forgive each other, learn from it, and do the best we can to avoid such mistakes without going into hiding or avoiding things that would allow us to grow, but yet, we would avoid them out of fear of sinning again. 2) It also is a good way to eventually make you feel guilty for all of those sins to the point that it leads you into depression of not wanting to do much of anything or making you feel like you aren’t worth anything.

    Another thing about people in general that I had to learn while I was in 4th grade is that people will be people, and I don’t mean that in a good way. The sad part of this, people will do whatever they want to do and they will avoid doing anything that appears to hurt their political livelihood. What do I mean by this? Best to explain what I went through as a kid growing up in what was a cruel environment.

    For starters, when I was 10 months of age, I had a high fever of 102 and right ear ache. The 2 combined damaged the temporal lobe on the right side of my brain enough to the point that it caused imbalance of bodily chemicals and I ended up having epileptic seizures (Doctors classified them as piti mals, but based on the differences of the symptoms, they were more like grand mals). Not only that, but as learned later, it appears that same situation also caused my learning disability in language by not being able to readily putting the different parts of the language together to make since as it’s that same part of the brain that performs that very function as taught in Psychology, even though the left side of the brain does most of the language work.

    Now jumping to grade school years. First I was held back a year right away as a result of the LD. Not going to say one way or another, but what ever as they still to that even today as they did with my 4th child who is more than likely ADHD as a heriditary from my wife’s side of the family. As far as I know, all it really did was delay me more in life than it was of help, but what’s done in the past is in the past. In my third grade year, I ended up becoming a ward of the state on a permanent basis as a result of repeated physical abuse with my own mother.

    The summer after that, I moved to another location and this is when things really got bad for me once the school year had started up in 4th grade. Now, I have 3 strikes against me by life itself (epileptic seizures, LD in language, and ward of the state). As such, school officials allowed older bigger kids gang up on me and beat the living tar out of me. When I told any of the school officials about the incident, they would tell me to either ignore it or they didn’t want to hear it. Not only that, but if I was to defend myself, I would be suspended by the school officials, which then I would be put into further punishment by the guardians. This not only happened to me in 4th grade in Flint, MI, but this also happened to me in Imlay City, MI when I was in 7th grade.

    What did I end up learning from this at that time (During my 4th grade year)?

    People will be people
    You may be able to control objects, but you can’t control people.
    If you want anything, you must do it yourself and not count on anyone else.
    As a matter of fact, expect others to put up with more barriers in your way.
    Don’t count on help, even if you really do need the help, don’t count on it, at least not from other people.
    People will do anything and everything they want to regardless if it hurt others in the process. The only exception to this would be if the consequences are great enough to cause people to be detered from doing such actions, then people will do right, but otherwise, don’t count on it.

    After having reflected on these situation later in life, the common themes had been the following:

    For urban areas (I.e. Flint, MI), the problems often times are seen as too large to resolve, like how Moses said unto God at the burning bush as he doubted God (Exodus 3:11), “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Continue to read the next so many verses until you get to 4:14 and including that verse where God’s anger was kindled against Moses for Moses doubting God.

    For rural areas, people rely on each other’s ties and don’t want anything to disrupt it, as such what took place in Imlay City, MI. As a result, when such issues came up as what was happening with 2 particular students throwing sticks and stones at me with me having to dodge those sticks and stones thrown at me, and the school officials not doing anything to stop it, even when they knew about it. One day after this took on for so long, I ended up going to one of the 2 students, punched him in the stomache and he then punched me right back. This took place just after he had thrown more sticks and stones at me. We were both sent the principle office, which then the principle asked who punched who first, and naturally it was me, so I was suspended from school for 3 days while he had no suspension. I was further punished by my guardians, just like in 4th grade, as they also sided with the school officials.

    All I can think of what took place in this latter situation, they didn’t want their social/economic network disrupted as when blame on people within the network starts taking place, the network tends to fall apart, so they would rather just place the blame on the outsider, which naturally was me with me being the ward of the state child.

    Even after that, it still didn’t get better for me as even in 8th and 9th grades, school officials in an entirely different school district yet attempted to hold me back in Math (the subject matter that I did best in of all general subject matters as I have always been good when it came to anything dealing with logics and numbers) under false pretenses like my records were lost in the mail, or that since I had a “C” in the course, they weren’t moving me up even though the only reason why I had a “C” in the course was simply cause I did 0 homework as I was too bored with it and already had passed that very same course the year prior with an “A” as only one other student out of a classroom size of 31 students had a slightly overall higher grade than me. When they told me that, the very thing I thought was, “I see where this game is going.” even though I didn’t even say it to them. I instead ended up formulating my plan of attack staying within their rules that were intended to work against me, but yet, I had to be creative and turn the attack back onto them by using those same rules to my advantage. In 9th grade, they attempted to hold me back in that same course for a 3 straight year, but only claim it was high school level. The very moment they said that, my immediate unplanned response to that was, “I DON’T CARE WHAT KIND OF GENERAL MATH IT IS, GENERAL MATH IS GENERAL MATH IS GENERAL MATH!!!” All they could say hesitantly was “Well….you….have….to….prove….it.”, as they knew at that point of time that I had enough of it, I meant every word I said, and I was not about to back down either. Two weeks later, they moved me up to Pre-Algebra, which when I was first taking that course, the only thing I could think about that course, it was all the same stuff as General Math, but only presented from a different point of view. I had wanted to move up to Algebra 1 as I knew I could do Algebra 1, but I didn’t want to have them thinking that I just wanted to move up without proving myself, so I stuck it out that year even though I hated to, but there again, I had to play by their rules. Oh well, sophomore year, I ended up getting the most outstanding award along with another person who lived in the same household as me, and who I actually helped from a language stand point of view with him originally from India. My junior year, I was inducted into the NHS at my own high school as well as the BPOA (Business Professionals Of America) at the Genessee Area Skill Center (GASC). The teacher I had my junior year for Geometry, he taught the course backwards in that he gave us our assignment to have completed by the start of the next class session. We would then turn in our assignments, and he would redistribute the homework so as we were grading each other’s homework and not our own. It was only during that time when he explained it as he went over the different problems. Before the first semester was even out, 3/4 of the students in my own class was coming to me for help as I was getting every single problem right pretty much every single time it was graded. I basically showed them how to read through the examples and then how to apply those processes to the problems just like how Jack Minore at the residential school when I was in 5th grade taught me how to do to learn how to learn for myself. Of the 13 schools I went to prior to college, 11 of them were public schools, which not a one of them treated me with respect, and the other 2 schools that were not public schools, they did treat me with respect, one of which was the GASC and the other being the residential school. My senior year was the year when I majorly disproved their belief about disadvantaged kids can’t do anything. By that time, my seizures had gotten so bad to the point I was taking 2700mgs of Tegretol per day, which that’s a downer med. I was a record keeper for the NHS, Treasurer for the BPOA, doing all sorts of stuff around the school through the NHS, one of the top cross country runners in the state of MI even though with all of the endorphins running through me during the race put me at greater odds of going into a seizure, but yet, I had to learn how to keep every single stress level in check to help minimize the chances of going into a seizure. Unless you go through something like that, you have no idea how many stress levels you have in your body. As a result of my seizures forcing me to learn to keep all stress levels in check, even when something majorly good does happen to me unexpectedly, I don’t really show it as a result of those hard learned lessons drilled so much into me.

    As a result, I have a long term dream of helping out handicapped kids dealing with social life issues as no child should have to go through such hurtful things that others have caused onto me. I realize we all need challenges, but it should be in a not so hostile environment to the point that someone could get severely harmed or even killed by such challenges. For me to have made it through all of that, I can only think it was God that carried me through it. As for being a ward of the state, it did provide me various experiences that had me learn so much stuff from so many angles including how terribly bad the world itself is to the point it has me often times reflect on the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12) with the key verses for me would be 10, 11 and 12 combined, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

    Not only did I do all of those things, but I had took Algebra 2 the full year and Trig the second semester while advancing in Account that was at that time, sohpomore level undergrad college Accounting, and is now junior level undergrad college Accounting as a result of the state now requiring a MBA in Accounting degree for the CPA instead of a BSBA in Accounting degree for the CPA, helped out the SMI students daily, running cross country as well as track and field despite the seizures and the meds I was on as one of the top distance runners in the state. I aced all of my courses my senior year, which I took up 7 credit hours instead of the normal 6 credit hours and moved from 13th to 10th academically out of 115 students in my hs class. Later on, I even learned from my Accounting teacher, of the 24 years she taught that course, I was thee only student to fully complete that course not to mention of me tutoring others or me falling asleep in that class early in the mornings (course started at 7:30am) as a result of the amount of medication I was on.

    Clearly, for me to have all of that energy and to do all of those things for all 5 of those years without giving one bit, that energy only came from God himself as no one person by itself could have made it alone on it’s own sheer energy with all of those different barriers in place (some by life itself, but many put in place by other people), and yet, end up coming out so far ahead of others.

    Even today, so many people look at a lot of different jobs as being tough, but yet, for me, it’s like, there’s nothing too it in most cases. It’s just a matter of how hard you make it or how closed minded you are to other things including such negative thinking like all the employer is looking for is for ways to reduce the amount of time it take to do manually, if not even have it computerized, just so as the employer can lay off more employees, which then reap more of those benefits for itself. Yes, there are cases like that, but it’s really more so of people fearing due to lack of true understanding. For me, I do it so as to get rid of much of the manual work and make my work easier to deal with, so as all I have to do is monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed. I’m not reaping in any financial benefits from having done the work itself, but I have laid down the ground work for myself to be able to move on with God’s help, should I need to.

    Anyhow, by you handling it like you did, I think you did a very good job of it. Sometimes, you have to deal with the people directly, at times, you have to go to management, and then there are times when it’s time to move on. I generally don’t like the idea of the move on part, as I don’t like the perception of running away from a situation, but if all else reasonably speaking has failed, then maybe it would be time to move on as people will be people. There was a co-worker that was getting really irritated and she wondered why I never seemed stressed. When I told her about my story, she remembered that phrase with the understanding of what it meant. Since that time, if she felt like others were causing her problems, she would remind herself of that very phrase and it would have a calming effect on her.

    Now for me, if someone starts messing with me, I will turn to God, but I will not only just turn to God, but I will also start formulating a plan to counter act the situation as I won’t just wait around for them to just come after me with me having nothing in place. As God has said, all faith and no work is an empty faith. Yes, God will do our battles like he did in the book of Exodus, but he also work through people to do his deeds.

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  11. vanessa says:

    10 months ago I was brutally attacked in my home by my ex-fience. He was released on probation after the trial and during his probation he continued to stalk me and violate the restraining order until he was finally arrested one month ago for the new violations. While he was on probation/house arrest he launched a letter writing campaign against me by e-mailing friends, family and my Pastor allegations that I was mentally unstable, had a sordid past involving illegal activities and that I ruined his chances to become a pastor at another church near by due to this. The church I belong to has removed me from it’s worship team stating that they want me to succeed and not set me up to fail. I feel alienated and betrayed I went to an alter call asking for sustained prayer and support in these dark times and I was thrown away. I have tried to analyze this from all perspective’s but cant make sense of this decision. I have even consulted with other Pastors from other churches. I didn’t attack myself, I have been functioning with this burden for 10 months working, raising my family and going through daily life with minimal support and when I finally feel safe enough to reach out to my church they remove me from the very thing that has given me life and purpose thus far. The worship minister want’s to meet with me in 2 weeks to discuss what’s best for me. I feel what is best for me is finding a church that follows what the Scriptures teaches us with regard to those who are burdened. I don’t think this choice reflects that. Is there another side to this that perhaps I am not seeing? Any advice would be appreciated. And FYI I am ok, I am saddened but not defeated I will grow because of this I was invited to perform a solo at another church on July 4th in honor of the service men and women in our military, I am recent Veteran. I thank God for that opportunity.

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    • Marie says:

      Dear Vanessa, I just read your 2010 post on a blog about dealing with difficult people at church. My heart went out to you when I read about the attack you sustained from your former fiancé, but then again from your church and even praise team. Some of the things you describe I can relate to, and it’s a very painful thing when people in church treat you this way. I have found that in time God ultimately sinful acts against us for our good and His glory. I hope this has been the case for you too. Wishing you God’s blessings, peace, love and joy!

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  12. sheila williams says:

    seems everything my husband and i do at church is unappreciated and wrong. i am so discouraged. i know most scriptures and everything. Just feeling lonely and discouraged, unable to talk with anyone about. I guess this just brings me closer the Father Jehovah, the Son Jesus and the Comforter the Holy Spirit. Listening to “Servant’s Prayer” by Bishop Eddie Long.
    I know life for a christian involves much suffering, i am trying not to be weary in well doing.

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  13. Duane says:

    Well I thought I was the only one who had problems like this. I read your article and I felt that you handle it very well. One thing I learned in my failures with church people is not to focus on the people but to focus on God. When you focus on the people and their behavior you quickly lose sight of God. This is a tactic of the enemy. Divide than conquer. I also learned that when you are attacked this is just away of letting you know that the individual is jealous and feels threaten by you. They feel that they have to tear you down in order to build themselves up. Understand one thing when you are doing the will of God many people are going to come against you for all the wrong reasons. The key to everything is to always keep a positive attitude and never let the love for people depart you, because without love there is no hope for change.

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  14. tamara says:

    I think a lot of people deal with this issue. I wish it was only one person in our church. We even have a decon that tells people my husband is drunk ect when he hasnt had a drink in years! One woman always blows up at us and at others and then cries afterwards. Another woman make mean remarks to my husband (loudly) and then says its just a joke! I could go on. We take vacations to get away from the madness and try to get with God. He has not sent us to a different church yet. We may just have to get really good at confrontation. Sounds like you are on the right track.

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  15. Wahaha says:

    There are difficult people in every single church. I have 2 ladies who complain about everything all the time and I am about to go crazy.

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  16. Judy says:

    You did a great job. I just went through the same situtaion in our church. Being the pastor of a church is not an easy position. Everything we do must be done out of love and for the glory of God, not man. Some people don’t make it easy for us, do they?
    My situation didn’t turn out as good as yours. The lady left the church, but eventually came back and apologized. I just did what the Bible says to do. Confront in love with the idea of reaching reconciliation. We did reconcile and things are so much better, but at the same time, she knows that I am her pastor and she can’t walk over me. Good job.

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  17. Ann says:

    I had a similar problem last night at church. I made a mistake and stepped on the back of a young lady shoes. She made jokes and told everyone that I broke her shoes. I went home feeling bad as this was truly a accident. Now I’m thinking that I should buy her a new pair and just stay away from her. This young lady that is 20 years my junior is very loud and her family is also members of the church. I just don’t want to step on anyone toes, I love the church but the women at the church are so very childish which makes it very hard to participate and any women ministry activity. Any suggesstion on how I should handle this?????

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    • Tom Shelton says:

      Ann,

      An apology should be enough but it often isn’t. If you choose to replace the shoes that may give you an opportunity to show true Christian love and maybe open things up so you can take a mentor’s role with this younger woman. I think staying away from her should only be a last resort if the relationship can’t be fixed and would become a public distraction in the church family. I would also suggest you might want to ask your pastor’s advice. He should be able to guide you through the reconciliation process if it is possible.

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    • Fletcher says:

      The devil is a liar. Some peoples bark is bigger than their bite. In this season we must be aware of the enemies devices. If God has called you to be a part of the Women’s ministry be a part and don’t give the devil the victory. Stand on the word of God and know it doesn’t matter how many family members attend that church. If God be for you (and he is) that is more than the world against you!

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  18. Paul M says:

    I agree that you dealt with the matter very well. That you did not remember to involve your wife is just the testimony that we will never be perfect, until heaven. To my sister, Ann, I suggest that you treat yourself to a great pizza with the money you want to buy shoes with. As for the two-year-old baby in a 20-year old body, give her something to suck. I mean that, and not as an insult to her.

    I am very concerned about the way we deal with each other as Christians. We are prepared to bash the heads of our three year olds -who know roughly NOTHING – by which they learn how to live, respond to life’s situations, make decisions, and by age 10 generally take responsibility for their actions; we are prepared to deal very firmly with our employees, colleagues, customers, drunks, corrupt officials, in firm, and often direct ways, yet they are not saved, but still they apologise, make correction (not all of them, I am making a general statement), but when a brother or sister in Christ acts stupid, reckless and care-LESS, (ie, they are doing these things ON PURPOSE) we run to the Lord, confused, depressed – meaning we are seething with fury – and are pathetically helpless! So, what is it we are learning from scripture? Why then go to church? In what way are we being told by our heavenly Father to tolerate evil?

    I believe we misunderstand the urge ‘suffering for Christ’. It has nothing to do with what so many of us have been taught by tradition, corporate belief, or well-meaning but erroneous teachers. Suffering for Christ has to do with our faith walk, and our witness to a rebellious, God-hating world. For instance, I might be due for promotion as senior manager, but he/she wants to sleep with me as a pay-off. So, I reject it, tell her I am a child of God, and if she fires me, great, I trust God for everything even if it takes another five years to find another job. In the meantime, I might be thrown out of my house, my kids get thrown out of school, my relatives avoid me as an idiot, and so on, YET I refuse to budge and stay in faith in Christ. This is suffering for Christ.

    There is something else. Love has nothing to do with ‘soft’ or with tolerance. We are children of God, right? And He says: “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” Three things. Why? Except in situations of danger, or where clear wisdom is required, we have been GIVEN power, love, and a SOUND mind – to deal with situations of conflict, bad behaviour, irresponsibility, recklessness, shaming behaviour, and bad character. We are to NOT tolerate a sister or brother taking advantage of us! We are commanded to REBUKE, and given scripture TO CORRECT! Paul tells fearful Timothy to get up, and never fear anyone. The Bible has ‘Fear not’ 365 times, and our nature is to be like the nature of God – new creations – and we are being conformed to the likeness of the Son of God. Study his life. Jesus never, never, never fled from confrontation, nor ever asked the Father to pleeeeease help! He looked DEADLY conflict, attacks, abuse, lies, gossip etc in the face, called religious leaders devils, beat guys out of the temple and refused to apologise, stood up to the highest powers of the land (Herod, Pilate), told his disciples off frequently – and not just for leadership’s sake, but for truth. So, if Ann buys the silly 20 year old shoes, and aplogises again, she is succumbing to something Jesus never would have.

    Let me boldly say this to my beloved brethren. Bad behaviour by our brothers and sisters in the context of community is NOT a spritual thing! It has nothing to do with the devil, or some so-called ‘spirit’ of this or that. These are human faults, and they are to be dealt with that way. It is why Jesus did not abolish the prisons, the judicial systems, the military and police, taxes, business, and why, in Romans 13 he insists that these human institutions be respected, and obeyed. In 1Corinthians, Paul tells the Corinthians to throw out the incestous brother, NOT pray for him! At no point does he talk of the devil or ‘the spirit of fornication’. And he calls it love! In 1Cor 13, he makes the startling and eternal statement” “Love never fails”. Never. When a sister gossips about you, or a brother works to undermine you by manipulation, she/he is revealing a heart problem of bitterness, hidden resentment, gross envy, or a deep need for revenge, and is using you. She/he is all the time doing it consciously and for a peronal, selfish purpose. The truth is that, she/he would never do that to the other sister in the same church, because she knows that, that sister would take her by the throat and deal with her! Gossips are cowards who stalk only those they assess to be weak, or cowardly. School bullies only attack certain students, never all. The evil stuff of the heart remains even after we get saved. When you confront the Christian bully, gossip, snider, cheat, rude one, liar, false witness, YOU ARE SERVING GOD, because you are dealing with the only thing God is interested in: righteousness – the matter of truth against the lie Hebrews 5:14 says; “But solid food is for the MATURE, who by CONSTANT USE have trained THEMSELVES to distinguish GOOD from EVIL”. It means you die to your self – ie, risk losing a ‘friend’ or even get more opposition roused against you – yet you stand firm on the truth, not on what makes sense

    I have come to the point where if I had proof that my pastor was in adultery, I would face him eyeball to eyeball, and not back down before his many supporters and admirers! If a brother gossipped about me today, I would call the other person, get the gossipper, and demand: ‘Right, replay the plot, we are all here.’ I was confronted many times in church, for lies, hypocrisy, a lust for control, and lost jobs, saw promotions go because I was manipulative and so on. UNTILL I learned and grew. If those Christians had feared me, today I would have gone back to the dung heap, or died, but worst of all, remained a Christian idiot. Today I fear no one, Christian or sinner, position or personality.

    Ooooops! Let me finish with this. There is a tendency for Christians to try to get others to do the same standard things for different circumstances. Abused? Pray! Gossiped about? Pray! Pastor wants to sleep with you? Pray! A brother inappropriately is touching your thighs? (Slap his face, publicly.) Someone is sending you insulting, or cheapening, or threatening phone texts or e-mails? Report him/her to the authorities and make it known to church authorities and special friends!! Deal with it. Prayer has been turned into a once-for-every-situation tool. In a tragic way, prayer has been made a false refuge for cowardice.

    About eight years ago, in my country, a woman told her pastor that her husband was battering her. ‘Love him, and pray.” After two weeks, she came back, reporting that he was getting worse, and locking her out of the house for the night. “Sister, God loves you, and your husband. He will find a way. Honor him (the man), and keep praying.” Not long after, she returned. “Pastor, he said he will kill me. I am scared! What shall I do?” Pastor asked, “Are you praying by faith? Keep praying, and thanking God.” Three days, the husband slit her throat, dead.

    We are not identical. Some of us are tough as steel and we can be direct, short and deadly effective. God has such among us. Another is gentle, unruffled and diplomatic, yet firm and a finisher. Another will laugh you off that you will never again dare cross him by gossip or a lie. Another is totally forgiving and forgets the matter as if it never happened. These are not necessarily spiritual qualities (though some amongst us who had wild tempers or were stinking liars, have totally changed!), but God uses you as you are – your natural and your spiritual. To believe that God now only uses the ‘spiritual’ us and has nothing to do with the natural aspects of us is to be deists – which is unbelief. A christianity that teaches standard forms of responses is a lying religion, much like Islam. DEAL WITH ME AS YOU WILL IF I AM ENDANGERING, HURTING OR IN SOME GROSS WAY COMPROMISING INDIVIDUAL PERSONS. Otherwise, I am hurting the whole body of Christ.

    And finally -pleeeeease? – there are these kinds of us believers in the body of Christ. (1) the spiritually and emotionally IMMATURE – like the 20-year old. (2) the legalists, which is a bigger form of spiritual immaturity. (3) the FLESH walkers (in my view, this includes the lady that Tom had to deal with, and, finally (believe this) (4) the unsaved masquerading as saved.

    As long as we are on earth, we will have them, and we honor God by dealing with them as empowered in our own unique ways. Your pastor will not do the job for you, and it is not even a Biblical calling for pastors to solve church conflicts. Read 1Cor 5 & 6, where Paul tells the believers: ‘YOU – DO IT!’ The more you overcome, the more you are a blessing to the very persons who at first were a shaming people against you. We grow to maturiy the more we overcome our senses, feelings and ugly memories.

    May God help us to see what he means by – …you have been given….

    Have a wonderful 2012

    Paul (Kenyan)

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    • Godfrey says:

      Very good advise Paul, my question though is, why is it always the women who are difficult. We are pastoring a small church in South Africa and this lady always has a tendency of belittling my wife, she opposes every decision my wife makes and it makes me very angry, however after reading all the comments, I know what to do, I am meeting her and her husband this Saturday
      God bless you all

      Like

    • sincerely says:

      Thank You

      Like

  19. Marlene says:

    Thank you Paul. After 4 1/2 years of dealing with a faceous couple applying all the startegies of intensive warfare, biblical conflict resolution, ignoring them while maintaining a high level of damage control and even meeting with them and attempting reprimand, they have continued to make threats, demand “satisfaction” and change according to their concept of church life. The “game playing”, accusing emails & “spitting the dummy” texts have continued. We are now considering the final step of withdrawing the invitation to fellowship and asking them to leave pointing out they are obviously unhappy with us and may feel more comforable somewhere else. You may wonder why we waited so long. We are in a very small town, and they have family contacts within the church. The strife and dissention was running hot and warm throughout this time. However as time has progressed other members have matured tremendously and have learnt to discern truth from error by themselves. During this time I, myself have learned much about Jesus tough love, God’s actual meaning of the word forbearance – leniency but not tolerating sin continually and studied the scriptures on dealing with difficult people. This has made me stronger and as we approach this final stage with this couple, we intend to stay strong in the Holy Spirit. Our members are now strong enough to weather any storm this separation may cause and we are able to see victory ahead. Every opportunity was afforded this couple to repent and now we feel there is nothing more we can do to help them find a peaceful relationahip with God and each other and this church.

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