No matter what you do, you can’t make her happy. Anything you try that’s new or different (different from what she’s used to, that is) is bad. When you hear her voice on your kitchen phone, you grope for a chair, knowing from experience that you’ll soon go weak in the knees. Gossip and discord among the church ladies can usually be traced back to the line in her kitchen.
She’s an outspoken authority on everything, from arranging the church kitchen to how long a sermon should be to rules for rearing your children. No matter what the subject, she has an opinion, and you’ve noticed that it’s often the opposite of yours.
She’d rather grumble than help, but when she does accept a task, she expects extravagant praise from the pulpit. Because she’s been around a little longer than you, she believes she’s entitled-obligated, even-to correct you, and she might be genuinely surprised to discover how little you appreciate it.
If she were your employee, you’d fire her. But of course she isn’t, and you can’t. She’s your sister in Christ, and you need to serve the Lord together-somehow! But she gets under your skin. The plain truth is that you don’t like her, wouldn’t choose her for a friend, are a little afraid of her, and sometimes wish you could just tie her up in a corner so you could go about serving the Lord in peace.
Well, go right ahead–tie her up! You can borrow my rope. I found my sturdy, multi-strand cord in I Corinthians 13. It’s tested and guaranteed as the only way to make a friend out of an enemy. Here are some of its strands.
Attach a long fuse to your short temper. Bear with silent grace all slights, slurs, and snubs. Look for creative ways to bless her. Stifle your envy of her influence. Always regard her as your equal. Treat her with consistently good manners. Sacrifice yourself for her good. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Praise–whenever and whatever you can. Refuse to stew over her faults or to recite them to others. Expect her to change, and in the meantime, love her. Just love her. Bind her with resilient cords of Christlike love-the more, the better. When she turns a new direction, just toss out a new loop!
I know that’s hard, because she steps on your toes, and sore toes hurt. So do stepped-on feelings. I haven’t yet discovered out how to command my emotions. (When you figure it out, please teach me.) But with His help, you and I can control our thoughts and actions. And love is an action-a chosen behavior rather than a feeling. Otherwise, the Lord’s directive in Matthew 5:44 would be impossible: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” I can’t control how I feel, but I can obey my Lord.
While you’re tying her up with love-cords, remember this: she’s not the real enemy. That’s Satan. You don’t have to love him, of course. Just be aware of the sneaky tricks he uses to create ministry muddles and sore toes. And look forward to the day when the Lord is going to tie him up-not with cords of love, but with chains of eternal judgment. Until then, he’ll be on the prowl, so keep your rope handy. As long as you’re in the ministry, you’re going to need it.
QUESTION: What have you found helpful in these type of circumstances? Any suggestions or testimonies?