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6. Alone is not always a good idea.

Go into the meeting with someone, if possible, who is capable of mediating or even just witnessing. I understand this is not always possible, but church leadership should be as involved as possible in these situations.

Remember: You should not be alone. Elders should be taking and shouldering any criticism with you.

7. Don’t dump it on your spouse.

Do not (if possible) go home and unload what just happened on your spouse. You do need to talk to someone, though. Call or visit a pastor friend and ask them to listen, but resist the urge to dump on your spouse.

Remember: You do not need your spouse to take up your offenses for you. Their plate is full enough. Spread out any info about the meeting to them over the week if you must … just don’t dump.

8. Both sides need to change. 

Most of the time you are not the whole problem. Do not hand anyone your backbone, or they will beat you with it. Be encouraged by the fact that the need of change is not resting completely on your shoulders.

Remember: Both sides need to change in order for real growth and unity to happen in your church.

9. Prayer. 

Soak every moment you get in conversation with God about the meeting and the people involved.

Remember: Your enemies may want to monologue at you, but God desires dialogue with you. Personal dialogue with God in prayer before, during and after the meeting will remind you that you are not alone. Just don’t let them see you moving your lips or hear you … they might think you’re losing it. LOL

10. Wait for the last 10 minutes.

I am not sure why, but it seems the last 10 minutes of a meeting like this is where the most meaningful communication happens.

Remember: Wait for the last 10 minutes of the meeting to listen for the real problem. Everything before the last 10 minutes is just warm-up.

11. Be ready for some “concerned friends.” 

Sometimes a person will come up to you (not being completely honest) and say “they” would like to set up a meeting with you. Little did you know “they” means five or six others who have, in the spirit of friendship, taken up the leader’s offenses. This is the critical meeting’s equivalent to the social phenomenon of “potty partners.”

Remember: They are usually parrots focused on the lead bird. The rest will follow.

So, pastors, I want to hear what you might add to this list. I wish I would have had one when I first entered into pastoral ministry.  

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Able Baker
Able is the lead pastor of Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church in Hardin, Montana he has been a senior pastor for 10 years. He has a passion for rural ministry and the rural way of life, he enjoys reading, movies, playing sports, chess, coffee, beer, watching MMA, hunting, fishing, and songwriting (he's written over 25 songs and recorded three CD’s). He's been married to his wonderful wife, Abbe, for 15 years. Together they have three beautiful children (Jackson, Chloe, and Lucy).”