One of the most frustrating things I know about being a pastor is the number of people who are negative about everything. Thankfully I am in a great church and most of our negativity comes from outside our church, but I talk with pastors every week who tell me that groups of people are always negative about something they are doing.
Jesus taught His disciples how to build the church. The chief goal would be to love people no one else loved, even when they were not very lovely. We have tried to plant a church with that philosophy. Along the way we have discovered what Jesus experienced in working with religious leaders in His day. (See Matthew 16:5-12) When a church reaches genuinely hurting people or when people in the church lead messy lives, the complainers will rise up, mostly among the most religious of people, and when these type people talk, their negative energy (yeast) spreads fast.
I have often told our staff that our ultimate goal is the same as every Bible-believing church in town. We are trying to help people grow to know Jesus and be more like Him. Churches tend to try different methods, some work and some don’t, and sometimes churches can get more passionate about those methods than about the work the church is called to do, but the goal of the heart of any believer should be the same. With that in mind, how do we respond to those who choose to complain and remain negative towards our own methods of trying to build Christ followers?
What do you do with negativity towards the mission God has called you to?
- Be on guard against negative talk. Ask yourself if what they are saying line up with truth. Is it true? If not, dismiss it.
- Learn when necessary. We should not refuse to listen to any criticism. There is an element of truth in most criticism, even among things you need to ultimately dismiss.
- Surround yourself with the right people. Some people are negative about everything and never encourage. Find people who can encourage you to walk closer to Christ.
- Remember negative people spread things about others too. It often helps me reconcile what a negative person says about me when I realize they are always spreading something negative. If it were not me being criticized, it would be their next victim. Do not give as much attention to the consistently negative person. Sometimes we tend to give them the most attention. The only way you will ever shut down the person who is always negative is to refuse to give them an audience for their negativity. The fact is that if they are given a continued voice they will bring people into their negativity. If the same attention is placed on people who are a positive influence then they will bring people along into positivity.
- Remind yourself of truth. Ultimately you are looking for truth, not one person’s opinion on truth.
- Confront untruth. You do not have to go on a witch-hunt for untruth, but you should try to stop the spread of falsities if you hear them being repeated or told to you.
- Be truthful and positive around others. Decide that 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.
What ways do you have to deal with negative people?