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All Sorts of People in the Church

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All Sorts of People - Dealing with Abrasive PeopleI’ve counseled a number of people who became disgruntled over the “sandpaper” people in their church.  Abrasive people can be those who are too outspoken or opinionated, who speak before they think, who constantly interrupt, or don’t do their fair share.  They can be those who tend to put others down to make themselves look good.

Here is the thing:

You or I could be “sandpaper” people to others in our church.   Perhaps we don’t speak up enough, never take a stand, or are so analytical we are slow to move into action.

Certain personalities can rub each other the wrong way.  Our backgrounds can make us more sensitive to or critical of some people.

Unity Possible Even Among All Sorts of People in the Church

All sorts of people attend our churches … people we enjoy being with and people we find hard to love.  Yet, if we are going to be the kind of Body that  demonstrates unity with Christ and fellowship with the Spirit, then we are going to have to learn to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Phil. 2:1-2).

In Philippians 4, Paul wrote of two women who apparently found each other to be “sandpaper” people.  He pleaded with them “to agree with each other in the Lord.”  Notice that he didn’t take sides.  Rather, he encouraged them to find their unity “in the Lord.”  The issue isn’t who is right or wrong but how we can come together in Christ.  We all need the attitude of Christ Jesus referenced in Philippians 2 which was one of humility.

Paul went on to instruct the other members of that Body of their responsibility to “help these women.”

Unity is Possible But We Need to Help Each Other

Help the “sandpaper” people. We are all responsible for how we treat others.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)

Help the offended people.  — We are all responsible for how we personally respond.

In counseling disgruntled people, I listen to their concerns and even if I believe the other person was more at fault, I still focus in on the responsibility of the one with whom I am talking.  I try to help them to look at the bigger picture, of the unity of the Body.  I point them to Jesus who “humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).  In due time, God “exalted him to the highest place” (Phil. 2:9).

 Help teachers and ministry leaders.  – They are all responsible to lead the way.

Equip them on how to build an atmosphere in in their groups where looking after the good of the whole is expected.  Model this for them and remind them of how they need to be examples.  The Apostle Paul so practiced the contents of his epistle to the Philippians that he was able to say, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -put it into practice” (Phil 4:9).

 A tool you can use with teachers to help all sorts of people in their groups look beyond themselves and consider the “interests of others,” is the teacher training worksheet, In Facilitating a Discussion, Everyone’s Contribution is Valuable.

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2 Replies to “All Sorts of People in the Church”

  1. I agree with you in everything you said. We all have spiritual gifts and through these we can help others. We need to talk to the people who seem to speak up before the person that is talking gets a chance to express themselves, in a caring and loving way. If it did happen to be a teacher we could use the Facilitating a discussion worksheet. This would be a good way to know how to do it properly. Everyone needs to be given a chance to express theirselves. In the church I’m in right now I haven’t seen this problem we were first talking about happen there. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 it mentions Spiritual gifts we have been given By God. We can all use these gifts as we need them! As I said before I love to talk to anyone who needs me! Each time we do something for the People we grow Spiritually. I’m humble in doing this and if the person I’m talking to wants me to keep it between us only I respect their wishes. Humble in God’s Love, Leonard

    • Yes, Leonard, the benefit of spiritual gifts is the effect they have on others, not ourselves. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” It is just one way of practically applying the truths of Philippians 2:3-4 referenced in this post … to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” but to also look “to the interests of others.”

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