Confront untruth. You do not have to go on a witch-hunt for untruth, nor should you, but you should try to stop the spread of falsities if you hear them being repeated or told to you. This is especially true if it is going to get in the way of doing what you know God has called you to do. Don’t be bashful about doing so. Don’t embarrass people or treat them harshly. Treat everyone with love. Be an example of how to handle disagreement biblically. But, don’t ignore it either.
Be truthful and positive around others. Decide you will always be a positive influence. Don’t repeat untruths, and avoid being a hypercritical person. Look for the good in situations. A positive attitude is equally contagious.
Love everyone I probably should have started with this one, because it’s most important (and I kind of did in my opening remarks), but I wanted to save the hardest one for last. There is a long story in my personal journey about this one, but God has convicted me continually that my first calling is to love Him, so I can adequately love others. It’s the work of grace taught throughout the Scriptures.
(Let me pause here and recognize if you’ve read this far it’s likely you have some very difficult people you are dealing with currently. I know the pain. I’m voicing a prayer for you now.)
You don’t have to love everything about your church, its structure or even the actions of everyone in your church. But, you have to love everyone. In fact, if you can’t love the people who are most difficult to love, I contend you’ll have a hard time pastoring the church effectively.
Find the most difficult person you know and let them be your standard. Are you loving them? Could you pray for them?
One thing to understand is most likely they are difficult for a reason. They are hurt, angry, broken, confused or simply sinful in their attitude. Either way, we have to love them. That’s our calling as believers. We may have to challenge them at times, and that’s part of discipleship, but we have to love them first. Many times, I’ve found if we love them we can actually begin to temper their negativity—at least lessen their volume.
There are always difficult people. That’s part of ministry, but it’s also part of life. Learning to deal with difficult people effectively will make you a better leader and your church will have the opportunity to be a healthier church.
This article originally appeared here.