SOLO PASTORS & 5 ways solo pastors can challenge church bullies by @DrGMcIntosh in @BiblicalLeadership #GaryMcIntosh

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Gary McIntosh, in his new book on leadership lessons for solo pastors, has addressed some of the thorniest issues solo pastors will face. One is what to do about church bullies? Here is a excerpt from his latest book published as an article by Magazine.

5 ways solo pastors can challenge church bullies

by GARY MCINTOSH , Biblical Leadership, JAN. 31, 2023.

Unfortunately, church bullies are common. It’s difficult to know how to handle them, since everyone is expected to be nice at church. They’re especially dangerous when they maneuver themselves into official positions—elder, deacon, trustee, financial chairperson, and so on. They don’t need an official position to bully others, but they do need an enemy—that is, someone to fight. Quite often their enemy is the solo pastor.

Here are some insights and tips to guide you as a solo pastor to challenge and handle the bullies you may encounter.

1.If your church is a light on a hill, it will attract a few bugs.

Good churches attract a lot of people, and some of them will be odd or difficult or challenging—you name it. Expect them to come, and be ready to manage them. Start with prayer. It’s powerful. God’s Holy Spirit is at work in your church, so allow him time to work. Ask the Lord what to do. Listen to him speak through the Scriptures and other godly leaders. Other church members, particularly those who’ve been around a while, know the problem. They’ve no doubt seen the bully work before. Talk with them. Listen to their concerns, insights, and suggestions.

2.Think of the bully as a rock in a stream.

A church is like a stream in which there are a lot of rocks—some bigger than others. As the stream moves along, some rocks will block it, causing it to pool up. If water can’t move out of the pool, it will eventually stagnate. If a particular rock is blocking the stream, you have two options: move it or go around it. Bullies are like larger rocks. Thus, you must either move the rock or go around it.

3. Deal with bullies directly.

Confront bullies head-on—that is, move the rock. Avoiding confrontation leads to resentment. Resentment then sours relationships. If you don’t confront bullies, the ministry will slow down, perhaps even come to an abrupt halt. In time, others in the congregation will get tired of the church bully, but it usually falls to the pastor to “do something about it.”

As a solo pastor, you’ll either have short-term pain and long-term gain or short-term gain and long-term pain. If you confront a bully, it’ll be painful, but you’ll get it out of the way, and in the long term the church will be better off. If you put off confronting a bully, you’ll have gain in the short term, but pain will continue in the long term. In most situations it’s better to confront sooner rather than later. Being betrayed, badgered, or belittled brings enormous pain—don’t allow it to continue. Church bullies are able to sniff out weakness and fear of confrontation in others. When they detect such vulnerabilities, they are empowered to exert their own controlling behavior even more. Be courageous. Step up and confront the bully. Look at the courage of Joshua (Josh. 1:6–7918) and the confidence of Peter and John (Acts 4:13). They served in different times, but the same Lord desires courage and confidence in his pastors today. Like someone once said, “If you have to eat some frogs, eat the big ones first.” Confront the big bullies first and the smaller ones will hop away.

4. Attack problems, not people.

Work to separate the bully as a person from the issues. This may not be possible, as bullies merge so closely with some issues that they can’t be separated. However, do your best to love the person while addressing the problem. One way to do this is to maintain respect for the bully as a person. Even if they use cutting words and are boisterous and mean-spirited, relate to them with standard courtesy. Resist mirroring their attitude or reactions. Be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Hold them accountable by asking direct questions. For example, “How was this decision made?” “Who specifically are the other people who are concerned?” “Can you respond to the rumor that you’ve been spreading lies?” Then wait and let them respond. If this occurs in a board or business meeting, perhaps others will also raise questions. However, if no one speaks up but you, that’s okay. It may take several confrontations before others gain the courage to say much. By all means, don’t try to humiliate the bully. If they try to humiliate you, let the others see what the bully is really like, but respond only with kindness. Point out that your concern is for the church and Christ’s honor rather than your own reputation.

5. If you can’t confront a bully head-on, go around them.

One wise pastor suggests, “If you can’t remove them, box them in.” By this he means to take away their power. He relates how he asked the chairperson of his trustees to discuss a proposal with the entire committee. Later on, the pastor discovered that the chairperson had exerted control by not even presenting the proposal to the trustee committee. Rather than confront the chairperson directly at the following trustee meeting, which took place a month later, the pastor showed up unannounced. Walking around the table where the trustees sat, he greeted each one and handed each a copy of his proposal. Before he left, he told the entire group he needed them to review his proposal and give him an answer the following day. This action put the chairperson in a box where he had to review the proposal, since all the board members knew about the pastor’s request. By doing this, the pastor went around the rock and sent a message that he was not going to allow the chairperson to exert control as a bully.

Excerpted from Chapter 6 ofThe Solo Pastor: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges of Leading a Church Alone,by Gary McIntosh. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (2023). Used by permission.

Read the original article here …

BULLIES & The Danger of “Induction” (& Contrasting it with “Deduction”)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: There is a an important difference between deduction and induction, and the two are often confused. Watch the video below where Sherlock Holmes makes many small observations to reach a bigger conclusion. This is induction and as Holmes demonstrates, should only be utilized by someone with expertise in induction. See the second video regarding what can happen with bullies use induction.

Also remember that deduction means to take a large concept and logically deduce specifics from it. Induction is the other way around, which takes many small factors and tries to create a large picture. Induction, which the Monty Python sketch below demonstrates, can lead to a witchhunt.

SOCIAL BULLIES & The Death of Civility in the Digital Age …

By MARK OPPENHEIMER, The New Republic Magazine, March 6, 2018

Last October, the morning that the Harvey Weinstein story broke in The New York Times, I published a short, stupid piece in Tablet titled “The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein.” I compared Weinstein to the sexually obsessed Alexander Portnoy, the narrator of Philip Roth’s 1969 novel Portnoy’s Complaint, “a grown man whose emotional and sexual life is still all one big performance piece.” I suggested that having grown up a schlubby Jewish kid in Queens, feeling like an outsider, might have stunted and distorted Weinstein’s sexuality—basically, given him something to prove, particularly in the presence of stereotypically hot Gentile women.

There was a lot wrong with the piece, which I wrote in about twenty minutes in the hour after I read the Weinstein story. It was analytically inadequate, making an analogy between Portnoy, a fictional fetishist and pervert, and Weinstein, a real-life sociopath, a comparison that had the effect of underplaying Weinstein’s crimes and diminishing real women’s suffering. I was wrong on the facts, too, for the rolling revelations of the ensuing days showed that Weinstein was an equal-opportunity predator, happy to degrade and devour Jewish women, Gentile women, African Americans, etc., whoever and whenever.

In the week to come, I received one of those public Twitter and Facebook shamings that writers now expect as an occupational hazard. Hundreds or possibly thousands of people, including close friends and professional colleagues, wrote or shared critiques of my piece; wondered in public what had become of me; lamented my decline (which had the strangely complimentary effect of suggesting that I had some status to lose, which few writers ever really feel they do). “This is a sick, disgusting and rapist viewpoint on Weinstein’s behavior,” said one person on Twitter. “Oppenheimer’s analysis is equally as vile as Weinstein’s behavior,” said another. “Fire him.” I got offline almost immediately, but I gathered from friends that as my old cohorts were upbraiding me, enemies were embracing me. I was praised by white nationalist Richard Spencer and David Duke, whose website ran a piece titled, “Major Jewish Mag Admits Weinstein is a Jewish Racist Who Wants to Defile White People and White Women.”

The day after the piece ran, I published a short apology. “The analysis I offered was hasty and ill-considered,” I wrote. “I take this as a lesson in the importance of knowing as much as one can about a given story, and in taking the time to think and feel things completely through before opining.” I’ve written a lot of pieces that have offended people but that I’ve stood by; but I wished I hadn’t written this one. So in one respect, I was grateful for all the feedback. When I do bad work, I want to be called on it, and to have a chance to own my mistakes. But I did wonder whether there was a better, more constructive way to have the same conversation…

A week after the blowback had driven me offline, I gingerly limped back onto the web. I found that some well-wishers had stepped in to plead for mercy. Lay off him. We all make mistakes. These were the most painful for me to read, because they came from people who had believed in me, and whom I had let down. One old college friend of mine, now an Orthodox rabbi, wrote a Facebook post that began with a line from Psalm 149, recited every day in shacharit, the Jewish morning liturgy:

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” It reminds me of the importance of patience, of not rushing to judgment, of taking time—both because compassion is better, and often harder, than anger, and because justice and fairness are best-served when achieved deliberately. Mark Oppenheimer has been a friend of mine for twenty years. He rushed and did something stupid and offensive (not criminal, just stupid), a mistake he has admitted. The world, it seems, has rushed to condemn and disown him. Would that we could all slow down a bit. It’s the only way we’re going to survive.

Re-reading that defense of me four months later is, paradoxically, rather cheering; the attacks feel like a lifetime away, while the tribute, the public announcement of affection from a man I like and admire but seldom see, feels very lasting. If I hadn’t written something offensive and stupid, and come in for a communal drubbing, I’d never have known how loyal the rabbi felt toward me. We simply aren’t that closely in touch. If not for this whole episode, the next time he praised me on Facebook might have been on hearing news of my death (hopefully so far in the future that Facebook will be a thing of the distant past). And he wasn’t the only one to emerge from the mists of time and tap me on the shoulder, offering consoling words or a virtual hug. That week, I probably got two dozen text messages or emails asking how I was holding up.

Part of me wanted all the well-wishers to just cut it out, since their messages were what kept me from forgetting about the controversy altogether. Friends of mine who have also been mobbed online have reported the same bittersweet experience: You go offline to preserve some sanity—to continue to function as a spouse, a mom or dad, a competent employee—and just when you have pieced together two or three hours during which you haven’t thought about the shredding of your reputation, your phone buzzes and—before you think better of it—you read the incoming text: “oof—twitter is the worst! u okay?”

I was okay, mostly, but for one very bad night. After my wife and children were all asleep, I found myself under some blankets on the sofa, trembling, worried that the wheels would come off and I’d lose everything. The chain of events didn’t seem so implausible. If one colleague or student at Yale, where I teach, decided that my internet post really was “as vile as Weinstein’s behavior,” and called for my firing, would the responsible department chairs and deans have the fortitude—in the days after those first Weinstein revelations—to point out that I had never actually done anything like what Weinstein had done, not even close? And if I were fired from my teaching post, and then the freelance writing work dried up, what would I do for money? Or health insurance? What of the mortgage, not even remotely paid off? And what would the shame of being unable to provide do to my composure as a husband and father? Unemployment destroys families. For about an hour, it all seemed precarious and fragile…

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