Survey: Let’s Talk Church Conflict

I shared with you a few days ago that I am working on a project for ministry wives. According to my own experience and your responses to a blog survey on the subject, the most difficult things about being the wife of a minister is dealing with those who criticize our husbands.

Criticism and subsequent conflict comes for many reasons. Sometimes we may be attacked based on misunderstandings of intent and vision. Traditionalism in churches also places huge expectations on the ministry couple to conform to a set of unwritten standards that everyone seems to ‘know’ except us. However, there are also times when either we, our husbands, or perhaps both of us just flat out do or say something stupid. One of the most intense periods of ministry conflict for Luke and me came as a result of our inexperience with pulpit politics. Our bad decisions may have been based in ignorance but being naive didn’t change the fact we were wrong.

So let’s talk about this a bit….(Feel free to address all or any part of these questions)

For those married to the ministry:

1. Was the last/current season of conflict you experienced based on something you consider based in traditionalism?

2. Have you weathered a season of conflict as a result of pure malice from an individual or group within the church?

3. Have you faced criticism and realized it was very much deserved?

4. How did you respond in these situations? i.e., outburst at those who trash talked your hubby, depression, despondency, anger, withdrawal, forgiveness.

For laypeople:

1. Do you believe you or your congregation expect too much from your ministry families? In general, when presented with your expectations, do you feel they try to meet them?

2. What is the last thing a minister in your church or his wife did that really upset you?

3. Have you ever realized you/your congregation wrongly accused your pastor or her wife? Conversely, has your minister/his wife ever admitted to poor actions/reactions/decision-making?

4. Has the wife of your minister ever been a hindrance rather than an asset to his ministry? i.e., does she have a personality that incites conflict?

One of the most important things I have learned in ministry is the fact my husband needs me to support but not protect him. You girls may not like what I have to say here, but there is nothing that will make your hubby look more like a wimp than for his wife to verbally attack his antagonists. There’s a reason Paul exhorted women to keep silent in church! In every difficult situation we’ve ever faced I can honestly say Luke is much more likely to respond with wisdom and restraint than me. With monumental effort I honor him by keeping my big mouth shut. (I can still give an awesome eye roll when no one’s looking :) I’ve personally never given a man a tongue-lashing, but I’m ashamed to admit one’s wife was the object of my wrath once upon a time. I’ve regretted that scene ever since.

There is nothing harder on the planet than to tame the tongue where our husbands and kids are concerned. (Shhhh…it’s also really hard not to let those confidences slip when sharing “prayer requests”) Let me just say this is such a huge issue I feel we need to deal with it separately but if keeping your peace is a problem for you when your family is experiencing conflict, please feel free to tell it even if anonymously. I very much want to know how the majority of us girls react when the pressure is on our man.

Please feel free to leave any comment even if the question was not asked. This survey is loosely based on my own personal experience and situations I’ve heard from others. You may have a totally different take than anything I’ve thought of. I’m here to learn from you! :)

I’m looking forward to this little discussion…I’ll be responding in comments!

Happy Wednesday!