Let me suggest SIX quick guidelines that will help you keep your home from becoming a ‘toxic dumping ground’ for church related issues. Such an environment creates a dangerous environment for the faith of your family members to flourish.
Church troubles will come, be certain of that. In fact, Jesus counseled us that we are to ‘beware when all men speak well of us.’
How you handle church conflict in your home will determine whether those troubles end up being virtuous or villainous.
- Remember who the real enemy is. The enemy has a name, and that name does not belong to anyone in your church. Unfortunately, there are times when the devil uses misguided others to help accomplish his objectives. But, when you choose to harbor ill will in your heart towards a congregant, you step outside of your call as a Shepherd. If you persist in that attitude and allow it to remain in your heart, it will eventually find its way into your home and negatively affect your family.
- Protect your family from toxic conversations that present congregants in a negative, critical way. It is unwise, and ultimately detrimental to your children when they hear you talk disparagingly or mockingly about people in your congregation. It can easily produce a resentment in them towards the church and the repercussions may last a lifetime.
- Keep church conversations out of the sanctity of your master bedroom. This should be the safest and most sacred place for the most intimate expression of your marital love. Don’t sully it with negative conversation. Don’t violate this bonding time by using it to initiate conversations dealing with church and people grievances.
- Pray together, with your spouse, not only for a resolution to negative issues that arise, but also that the Lord will use these troubles to teach, grow and strengthen you as leaders. There is no circumstance, criticism or crisis that God cannot use to mature your faith and solidify your ‘together’ call to ministry. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. With that promise intact, you can face the severest of tests triumphantly. Pray for grace, wisdom and patience as you navigate tempestuous waters. You’ll come out a better leader with a happier spouse.
- Honesty examine your own heart. I have come to accept the fact that there is no criticism I face that does not contain an element of truth. Leaders who are secure and humble in their call do not have to waste time defending their own position. God has promised to be our defense and He is qualified for the job. When we react with persistently angry, resentful or defensive posturing, we place our family members in an awkward dilemma. It may boost our own ego to have our family onside to defend our honour, but it is not in their best interest to force them to choose sides to bolster your own position.
- Take the ‘High Road.’ Be known to your family by your quickness to forgive, your unbiased generosity to all people, and your resolute faith to believe that God will ‘work all things together for your good, if you love Him and are legitimately called by Him.’ Be known for your gracious response to the shortcomings of others, and by your willingness to go the extra mile and turn the other cheek regardless of the nature and extent of the wrong.
Your first forum of ministry as Pastor/Leader is to your family. Guard the hearts of your spouse and children with diligence. Let nothing, in your conduct and response to trouble, give them cause for offence or sour them towards Christ and His Church. This is the first forum for effective ministry.