Everybody has to deal with some negative voices along life’s journey.
As a pastor, the biggest thing is to make sure you’re not the negative voice in someone else’s life. Of course, there are times when a negative truth must be spoken. But if you are constantly finding it necessary to speak negatively and share criticism, well, check your heart, preacher.
How should a pastor handle the negative voices that are louder and demand more attention than all the rest? I’ll give you three ways to deal with them, but first, let me share this next statement with you that I believe was Holy Spirit inspired. One recent morning, it rose up in my soul with great clarity.
I will not allow negative people to drive my daily decision making or create the agenda by which I lead God’s Church.
That sentence will soon be printed on card stock and posted in my office. It actually fueled the thoughts that led to this article.
Dealing with negative people requires intentional effort. Without a plan, drifting is not what happens. You will either learn how to work against negativity, or you will get sucked into the pessimistic self-righteous force that swallows up all positive momentum.
Pastor, here are three spiritual and scriptural ways to deal with the negative people in your life.
1) Love the person behind the criticism. There’s a soul behind that voice that God loves. Only God perfectly knows and understands the motives of their heart. And He loves them regardless of their motives. So can you.
2) Gently counsel the person to see the bigger picture. It’s so easy to criticize a small detail when you don’t realize how it fits into the bigger picture. I’ve been guilty of that error in judgment before. Have you? Sometimes you can’t see the forest because you’ve got your nose stuck in somebody else’s tree.
Most people have not been taught to view life with big-picture thinking. It’s as though there’s a beautiful sunset and they are looking toward the west-facing window. But all they want to talk about are the smudges and streaks on the window. They need you to inspire courage in them to figuratively back up and see the grand scale of God’s beautiful plan.
3) Pray for and with the negative person. The continuously critical person most likely has unresolved issues in their life which still cause them pain. Until wounded people experience full healing, they are hurt people who hurt people. For that reason alone, they are deserving of your pity. But this pity must look like compassion and quickly move into merciful prayer. They need prayer for healing.
Don’t forget to pray against the negative influences in that person’s life. Many times there are unseen spiritual forces at work. This warfare is real, and many victims don’t realize they are under attack from the spiritual forces of evil. Instead of fighting their own battles through prayer, they are mindlessly wielding wickedness. Exercise authority in the name of Jesus and rebuke the devil and his powers of darkness.
These three ways of dealing with negative people are not easy. Interpersonal relationships can be difficult, even for the most seasoned of God’s appointed and anointed church pastors.
Whatever you do, don’t feed the drama that negativity wants to create. If you give the negativity too much attention through agreement and useless pity, you are an accessory to the crime of aiding a drama monster. Don’t feed the monsters!
Now repeat this with me: I will not allow negative people to drive my daily decision making or create the agenda by which I lead God’s Church.