“If, as a six-year old, you addressed your teacher the same way you addressed your dog, you soon learned that relationships are not all the same. In ministry, we juggle many kinds of relationships. How do we navigate them well and determine what’s appropriate to share with whom, when to maintain professional reserve and when to disclose personal opinions and emotions, and who receives a greater investment of our time?”
That’s how Mandy Smith begins “I’m Here for You … Kinda,” her overview article on the various relationships we in ministry have with people. It’s a helpful rubric to understand that not all relationships are the same—and that’s okay.
That was true for Jesus, who invited certain disciples to spent the night with him when he was most vulnerable. Others he didn’t. One woman he allowed to anoint his feet with perfume and dry them with her unfastened hair. Other people “he did not entrust himself to” because he knew what was in their hearts.
Distinguishing our relationships is an essential part of ministry. Here are some of the best tools we’ve found to help you practice discernment in clarifying your own relationships.
The Spotlight Syndrome by Kyle Idleman. Perhaps the most marked relational distinction is how you treat your spouse and children in contrast with how you relate to the church. How do you raise a family while leading a church? Here is wise counsel.
Ministry Meltdown by Bob Merritt. When ministry turns you into a relational monster—at home or anywhere else—the answer is not to suck it up and work harder.
What Happens to Clean Hands in a Messy Situation? by Mark Buchanan. You might have been told as a youngster, “Stay away from bad people.” But in ministry, your ministry relationships are often with people who are sick, sinful, broken, and (at times) bad. Interestingly Jesus didn’t separate himself from sinners. His revolutionary touch puts transformation within reach.
Why People Get So Mad at Pastors, by Wayne Cordeiro and Francis Chan. As a pastor, you will be on the receiving end of anger that’s all out of proportion to your actual involvement in the situation. What’s with that? There's more going on than just clashing personalities.
Relational Outreach. Evangelism is something every Christian is called to do, and one of the key functions of the church is to prepare people to share their faith. While outreach takes a variety of forms, for most the primary opportunities to share their faith come through relationships. This download mentors you and your team on developing those kinds of relationships.
Find a Support Team. Since, leadership can be lonely, it's essential that leaders have people they can turn to for support, to help ease the load and offer perspective into the unique challenges of ministry. This resource gives tips for finding relationship with those you can confide in and who will keep you encouraged and accountable.
He Said, She Heard. Every preacher knows that sometimes what we say (or at least what we thought we said) in a sermon isn't what our people hear. In this PreachingToday.com article, Jeffrey Arthurs explores some of the differences between ways men and women tend to communicate. As Arthurs cautions, "Preaching is more than a report of what you discovered in the study; it is also a means of establishing and nurturing relationships." Both a congregation’s relationship with you, and their relationship with God. And since at least half of those relationships in preaching will be with members of the opposite sex, don't get caught in the trap of "He said, she heard" or "She said, he heard."
Working With the Opposite Sex. Working relationships with the opposite sex can be complicated. These handouts from Buildingchurchleaders.com are designed to equip men and women to work together faithfully, effectively, and harmoniously in the church. You can use this material for a training session or to give individually to key people on mixed gender teams.