Sometimes the worst interpersonal problems in congregational life are the ones we create ourselves — or at least we contribute to them.
I just finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which my book group will discuss next week. It’s a great read, with surprisingly accessible language for a book written in 1817 (by a 19-year-old, no less). Victor Frankenstein, out of his compulsive desire for knowledge, creates a living creature who ultimately destroys him and everyone he loves. The monster, while sympathetic in some ways, is unregulated and thus destructive.
Most ministry nightmares are not as bad as this! And yet we play a part in them. I’m thinking particularly of the very needy folks who can consume our time and wreak havoc in congregational life. We want our churches to be welcoming, and so we allow people to act badly, and are unable to set limits.
It’s important to be able to say, “You can’t act like that here.” Some people will be able to manage themselves when appropriate limits are set. Others may get angry and leave (and probably go act out the same scenario in another church). But when we allow the least mature to call the shots and dominate our own schedule, we’re not doing them any favors.
Where do you need to set a limit with someone?