Is it possible?
What is the most intensely difficult request God asks of you as a pastor’s wife?
Your church is undoubtedly making a significant difference both in your local and global community. You are developing, training and releasing people into their gifting. You are growing next generation pillars upon who your church will stand to take it into the future.
Church is all about God and people. God – you praise, worship, honour, stand in awe of and soak in His presence. People – you develop a depth of relationship with them progressing from acquaintance through to friend.
Church is family. You are a daughter of God and I am a daughter of God, so that makes us family. Eph 1:5 tells us God predestined us to adoption as daughters by Jesus Christ to Himself. You have been adopted by God into His family.
If you think about your own biological family for a moment you will be markedly aware of the working dynamics of relationships. At times they travel a smooth road and at other times they travel a rough road. These relational dynamics in your church family also travel similar roads.
To successfully have outstanding church relationships, it is essential to learn how to do relationships well.
In 1 Peter 3:8,9 Peter explains for us exactly how to achieve this.
NIV Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Basically, Peter is saying, ‘Be like minded’, ‘Here are 5 keys on how to accomplish this’ and ‘As a result you will inherit a blessing’.
Peter assumes possibility. Be like-minded. Be in harmony. Be agreeable. God loves variety and God loves diversity. If He didn’t all flowers would be the same colour and emit the same fragrance.
God made you and I, and everyone in your church different. Not one is identical. You gave your life to Christ, and were born again into the family of God. God then planted you into His church to pastor and lead a people who are different to you.
People who call your church home and those who attend shop at competing supermarkets, order differing types of pizza, like their coffee anywhere between warm to extra hot. They have differing personality types, gifting and family of origin dynamics. Along with these are health issues, relational problems, generational partialities. Students of the word through to Biblically illiterate. Life-long followers of Jesus and new seekers. Accepters of change through to resisters of change. And more.
Then God gives us this directive – Take all these differences and personal preferences and be a church family who is like-minded, who is agreeable with one another. I think, ‘God, this is a near on impossible request’.
5 keys how to successfully have outstanding church relationships.
Meaning, feeling for someone, endeavouring to understand what a person is experiencing, affirming, validating that person.
One of the ways you can raise your sympathy level is to use your ears more than your mouth. Develop the skill of listening. Listening says, ‘I care about you’, ‘I am interested in you’.
Love One Another
This key alone is huge considering 1 Cor 13, the love chapter.
In your biological family you can’t choose your relatives. In your church family you have no say, or choice about who God adopts into His family. He plants them in your church and says to you, ‘Love them’.
A significant part of loving is to activate forgiveness, talk any issue through with the person, find a solution or agree to disagree.
Meaning, kind hearted, empathetic, concerning, considerate, caring.
Col 3:12 instructs us to, ‘Put on, clothe yourself with compassion’. You put compassion on. It is a choice of response.
Compassion takes you to a deeper level with a person than being sympathetic. Compassion moves you more readily into a place of active involvement.
Meaning, unassuming, unpretentious, without airs.
1 Cor 13:4 ‘Love is not proud, puffed up or arrogant’. Contrary to what you may think you are not the source of all knowledge, your point of view is not always correct, you don’t always get it right. Being humble is acknowledging this is the truth.
The opposite to humility is pride. The problem with pride is that its friend stubbornness follows close behind. Once the two lock arms you become immovable and humility evaporates.
Do Not Repay Evil with Evil, Or Insult with Insult
Repay. Is all about vengeance.
Rom 12:19 ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.
I am sure you, like myself, have at times been tempted to pray one of David’s calling down fire prayers recorded in Psalms. But Jesus says, ‘Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. Luke 6:28
It is difficult while praying good things for someone to at the same time think vengeful thoughts towards them.
Insult. Meaning, avoid scolding, no retaliation, no sharp-tongued sarcasm.
As a pastor’s wife you will have been on the receiving end of people saying the most thoughtless and hurtful words to you. You have smiled graciously while remaining silent.
James 3:5,6 Mess. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it.
You ask, ‘What will it benefit me if I put these 5 keys into operation?’
Peter answers your question. ‘…because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing’.
Mess. ‘You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing’.
The blessing of a dramatic decrease in hassles and conflict in your relationships. Coupled with this the blessing of a dramatic increase in satisfaction and enjoyment in your relationships.
Have you found these 5 keys to be helpful for you in having outstanding relationships with people in your church? How have they helped?