What do you think of communication skills? Have you ever tried to learn any? Do you have the nerve to use them when you’re already stressed out? I talk about one of these skills in today’s blog. I’ve listed three scenarios of abuse for your consideration of using this skill.
Scenario 1: Suppose you’re a happy member of Church A, and have been for years. All of a sudden a new pastor arrives on the scene. Not having been trained in communication skills himself, and not seeming to know the adage that pastors are not supposed to change anything for the whole first year they’re on staff – here he is, behaving like a bull in a china shop upsetting everything in his first month on the scene. And you’re one of the ones who gets trampled on.
If he’s a reasonable person, he may be open to communication if approached correctly. What do I mean by “correctly?” Make an appointment with him. Start by saying “When ________ happened, I felt __________, because ______________. You fill in the blanks.
If he’s reasonable, he might listen, and respond in a more humble and apologetic fashion. If he gets defensive and even more like the bull in the china shop, he stands a good chance of not being a reasonable person. What wisdom would do then, depends on the already-developed or developing severity of the situation. If no matter what you’ve tried hasn’t worked, it may be time to move on to Church B.
Scenario 2: Suppose you’re a member of Church D, and for quite some time, there seems to be something in the atmosphere that just doesn’t seem right. It has taken a long time for you to admit to that feeling of discomfort, but once you have acknowledged it, you begin to quietly search for its source.
As time goes by, you listen to what other people are saying aboaut a growing sense of unease. You know then that’s it’s not just you imagining it. The insight slowly dawns that it feels like being manipulated by the one in authority – like there’s a hidden agenda that’s the “real” one that the pastor wants to accomplish. There’s nothing healthy or holy or Scriptural about it, as far as you can see.
You learn that certain of your friends have tried to talk to the pastor, and have gotten rebuffed. You could also try to talk to the pastor. If you do, take someone with you. Do not go alone. Again, try the same sentence, “When ________ happened, I felt __________, because ______________.” If you discover that the situation has already escalated, and you feel there is nothing more that you can do or are willing to try, it may be time to move on to Church B.
Scenario 3: Suppose that much dysfunction (as listed in Scenario 2) is happening in your church and has been happening for quite some time. This time the pastor has been manipulating you directly, all the while, trying to hide the fact that that’s what he’s doing. Suppose it takes time for you to realize it. When you do realize the depth of it, you have all your own strong emotions to deal with. I don’t know if that’s a good time to confront the pastor or not. But if you decide to, take someone with you. Do not go alone. If the situation escalates, once again, it may be time to move on to Church B.
Please understand. I’m not trying to give unsolicited advice. It’s just that, as a spiritual abuse survivor myself, I understand these scenarios. I was once in a situation in which I would never be welcome back there again. And I’m in your court. I want us all to be able to find peace, to be able to worship the Lord in a healthy environment, and get on with serving Him like he wants us to.
Today is Valentine's Day. The Lord is the best Valentine we could ever have. Think about telling him, "When __________ happened, I felt _______________, because __________________." And let Him surround you with His love, the greatest love ever.
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And remember, you're awesome! God holds you in the palm of His hand.
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