7 Tips for Dealing with Angry Parishioners

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Dealing with angry parishioners is an inevitable situation for many priests and members of parish staff. Here is some Biblical advice to help bring peace:

  1. Pray for Wisdom.
    God has promised to provide wisdom to those who seek it (James 1:5). Specifically pray that God will give you wisdom in handling the specific person and scenario. You may want to get insights from a mentor first prior to proceeding.
  2. Pray for Peace.
    Jesus has promised that He would not leave us alone but that He would send the “Helper” (i.e. the Holy Spirit). In moments like these, I often pray something like this, “Please give me the fruit of peace in dealing with this scenario.”
  3. Just the Facts.
    Make sure you have the facts right before proceeding. There have been a number of times when I’ve been told, “They say…” to which I have to then ask, “Who are they?” In many cases, the “they” is really only one person. In some cases, there is no “they,” but its “them,” i.e. the person who is telling me “they are mad” is, in fact, the real angry person. Before proceeding with conflict resolution within the parish, I need to know who exactly is angry about what. Thus, be able to clearly define the issue.
  4. Meet Privately
    Jesus taught, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” Mt. 18:15 I’ll typically begin the conversation with prayer and ask them to help me understand the situation. More often than not, it’s resolved then and there. In fact, in many cases, you even bond through the process and they may even become your ally.
  5. Be Open to Eating Some Humble Pie.
    It’s painful and embarrassing, but I’ve noticed that sometimes God is speaking to me, indirectly, through the angry person about a blind spot or oversight in my life or ministry. At which point, I simply have to apologize and make the needed corrections.
  6. Intonation and Body Language.
    Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Be sure to avoid the trap of using e-mail or Facebook to deal with an angry person.
  7. Finally, I Cannot Begin to Tell You How Much Better I Feel Already Knowing that You Also Have Some Angry Parishioners.
    So did the Apostle Paul. Sometimes, we simply cannot see eye to eye on issues, and people move on. They are inconsolable. It happens. However, if you follow the steps above, you’ll discover that often an angry person can become an ally simply by hearing them out and by following these steps towards peace.

Jesus promised that there’s a blessing to those who strive to make peace; “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God,” (Mt. 5:9) meaning that when you at least try to bring peace, you’ll be identified with the Prince of Peace. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the blessings I can get.

Source: Church Leaders

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