by Margaret Marcuson:
Is your family part of the church you serve? Pay attention to what you say to them about church people. It’s easy to get in the habit of complaining about church when you get home. Here are three reasons to change that habit.
1. It’s not good for you, professionally and spiritually. Complaining reinforces your negative thoughts about others, and it doesn’t accomplish anything positive. Instead, it can keep you from addressing things directly with those involved.
2. It’s not good for your relationship with your family. Complaining about others at church, whether colleagues or church members, gets in the way of working on your direct, one-to-one relationships with your spouse and children.
3. It’s not good for their relationship with the church or church people. Your family members often have their own relationships with these people. And even if they don’t know them personally, they have a relationship with the church. You may get over your tiff with someone quickly, while your spouse holds on to resentment on your behalf far longer.
When you need help thinking something through, get a neutral perspective – find support from thoughtful friends and colleagues (outside of church). Your spouse will find it hard to be neutral – he or she inevitably gets defensive for you.
Instead of complaining to your immediate family, try this: ask an extended family member for advice on dealing with a tricky church matter. If you have a difficult supervisory situation, ask your brother in HR what he might suggest. If you have a challenging older choir member, ask one of your parents what they might recommend. You’d be surprised what they can come up with, even if they don’t go to church. When my ministry coaching clients try this, they almost always come back and say in surprise, “They gave me such good advice!”
Of course, when things heat up at church, it inevitably spills over at home. Your spouse needs to have some sense of what’s going on when you are stressed. Try to be candid without unregulated venting. It’s better for you and them when you make thoughtful choices about what and when to share.
Margaret J. Marcuson is a leader of leaders, ordained minister, and teacher and student of human systems. She speaks and writes on leadership and works with faith leaders nationally as a consultant/coach. Margaret is on the faculty of the Leadership in Ministry workshops (www.leadershipinministry.com), and is a frequent guest preacher in churches.
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