Practical Ministry Lesson #3

Life is made up of many relationships. Throughout all of our life we have different relationships: friends, family, marriage, work, school, church, … and even enemies.  Much of our success in life depends upon how we learn to handle or get along in these relationships. For example, many people lose great jobs because they can not get along with a colleague, many marriages end in divorce because two people can not get along, many friendships are terminated because one can not forgive or get over what happened in the friendship, etc.

When a person thinks about serving the King of kings and Lord of lords, he/she is excited because they have the privilege to work full time in what they love to do.  But when a pastor gets to a church, missionary arrives to the field or an individual begins to serve in whatever realm of the ministry, he suddenly begins to see problems – people problems. He wanted to serve God, but it is almost impossible with all of these people problems.

In this blog post, I would like to share with you the importance of getting along with others and even a few principles of how we can get along with others.  Before we begin, allow me to tell you what many preachers have reminded me: although the ministry would be easy without having to deal with people, remember that without the people there is no ministry.

When I was in my high school years, I had a friend who sometimes got on my nerves.  When I finished high school I thought those problems were over, but when I arrived to college, I met people just like my friend back home that was hard to get along with. From college I went to Peru and from Peru to Argentina. I have found out that everywhere I have been there has always been difficult people to get along with. And since there are always difficult people to get along with (some being moody, some being angry, some always depressed, some never satisfied, etc), maybe the one who needs to learn …. is me.  Maybe I need to learn how to relate with people for the sake of the Gospel or for the sake of my own sanity.

Many people have left churches, only to find there are people problems in the next church they arrive at. Many have left a marriage only to find out that their next marriage is harder than the first one. Many people have left a neighborhood because of problems with the neighbors, only to find out that in the next neighborhood there will be people problems as well.

My intent in these few short paragraphs is to show you that people problems are everywhere and if they don’t get fixed in one area, they will come to haunt you in another.  Knowing and understanding this will help us greatly to fix problems instead of running from them.  And in order to fix people problems, the Bible gives us many principles to help us to live in peace with all men (Romans 12:18).  Below are listed a few Bible principles that will help all of us to learn to relate correctly with those weaker than us, those stronger than us and those more problematic than ourselves.

1.  Prefer others before yourself (Romans 12:10)
It is not easy, but it is always better to honor and prefer another before your own self.
The Bible speaks of loving one another, serving one another, encouraging one another, etc. You should always put others before yourself. If you remember to put another before your self, it will save much heart ache and many a head ache.

2.  Learn to die to yourself (I Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20)
You do not always have to be right and you do not always to win the argument. A wise person will just close his/her mouth and let the other person be right.
When the Corinthian church wanted to take their brethren to law, look how Paul responded: “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (I Corinthians 6:7). This was hard for me to understand, because being wrong and especially being defrauded, hurts very bad. I have always thought that one who is totally innocent but defrauded should rightfully defend himself, but our Savior tells us this is not the right way. As He, Jesus Christ, went before the wicked and twisted authorities of his day, He spoke not a word. Christ did not defend Himself rather just kept silent. Why would He have done such a thing when we all know He was innocent. Could it be that our Savior has a lesson there for us.
We as His disciples are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him yet so many times we want to follow Him without denying ourselves.
In life, and especially in the ministry, we are going to confront people whom falsely accuse us or get mad over things that are not even big enough to get mad at – but we must learn not to react harshly, rather let the Lord be the avenger.

3.  Do not let pride get in the way
If you were wrong, admit it and go forward.
I have been wrong so many times and have made so many mistakes, but when someone else reminds me of my mistakes, I try to justify them and make myself out to be not-so-bad.
When I am wrong, the best thing I can do for myself and for others is admit it, ask forgiveness if necessary and not let pride get in my way.

4. Do not hold grudges
Just before we are told to live in peace with all men (Romans 12:18), God tells us in the verse before “Recompense to no man evil for evil” (Romans 12:17). The pulpit or authority of no church should be used to recompense those for the harm they have done. I must never shoot down someone even if they have hurt me badly. If I hold a grudge and do not forgive them, I will soon react in hatred and spoil our relationship.  But not do I only spoil a relationship with others when I hold grudges, I also hurt my relationship with Christ.  In Matthew 5:23-24 and 6:14-16, I am told to forgive others and if I do not forgive others, my Heavenly Father will not forgive me.

If we as missionaries, pastors and Christian workers are to go forward for our Lord, it will be with people by our side. No one can do the work alone. But when we do not learn to get along with others, when we do not learn to relate with those by our side, we will sadly but surely soon be alone.  May we all learn to be happy and learn to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). May we all build up and encourage people to do more for our Lord – but this will only happen when we learn to relate with those around us.

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush

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