This is the final posting on signs of disloyalty, but there will be a couple more posts on the concepts and the importance of loyalty coming up! My name is Benjamin Conway, and I pastor the Tree of Life Church, and you are going to have a great time reading this blog!
So far we have looked at the signs of disloyalty, and found out that it starts small – with independence, then with some passivity, then criticisms, then it starts to leak out as the person becomes a church politician and tries to build a power base based entirely on criticism and negativity. This is not pie in the sky – these things happen in businesses, in families, in churches all the time. We need to be prepared and we need to be aware. The Holy Spirit is a gentle dove, not an ostrich that puts its head in the sand and pretends problems are not there. The reason we have to spot the signs of disloyalty – the subtle independence as someone doesn’t do your study, but their study; the passive person who suddenly drops off all the rotas, the person who “is only trying to help” but is just ripping down everything the people who are working are doing, and then the person mingling around the church during the teas on a Sunday letting everyone know they are not as happy as they used to be – is because disloyalty ends up with a backstab.
Just like a kettle that is getting warmer and starting to steam will eventually boil over, disloyalty that starts with passivity if not checked will end up with a backstab.
This is the final stage of disloyalty – you will be betrayed. When the person gets enough of a power base they think they can do something about it, they will start to attack you openly. There are three different ways this attack will come:
1. An attack on your capability
2. An attack on your character
3. An attack on your credibility
The first one is about your ability to lead and run the church. People will point out the mistakes you have made (if you are part of a successful, growing ministry you will have made mistakes, you will have taken risks some of which won’t have worked, you will have made mistakes. That’s what people doing things do. Passive people never made mistakes because they are risking nothing, doing nothing, reaching no-one, helping nobody, and doing no good for the kingdom), will harp on about money they feel was squandered because an outreach programme didn’t work, will claim that you no longer are capable of making good decisions. This is how Absalom dealt with David – every time David acted as a mediator,
The second attack that offended, religious people make is against your character. They will tell you that you don’t pray enough, don’t read the Bible enough, that you don’t give enough, that you are unloving, that you are too mean, too harsh, too soft. What generally happens is people find things about your personality and attack them as if they were a character flaw. Character is about integrity, personality is about who we are. It’s awesome that God creates everyone different – some people like comedies, others action films, other romance. What happens is that when people want to assassinate the character of someone who has good character they attack their personality. Some people are loud, others are quiet. So if you are loud, they tear you apart for being abrupt, for being a party animal, too shallow, for being this and that. If you are quiet, you are attacked for being timid, and too quiet, and not charismatic enough. If you like a certain sport or TV programme you are called worldly, if you don’t watch sports or TV you are called a Pharisee in an ivory tower.
The third attack is your credibility. People will just blatantly say you can’t do it – you can’t run the team, lead the church, get the ministry out of debt. They won’t even offer evidence – they are not thinking logically they are boiling over with rage and they don’t want to have a discussion they want to have an argument. They won’t accept any explanation for their behaviour and their opinions.
When people start making blatant attacks against your character and your personality – then everyone around has to make a choice to stay loyal or not. This is when a church splits. People follow the backstabber, others stay. Others get so confused they drop out of church completely.
If you haven’t spotted the signs before this point, and you are being backstabbed then you need to take urgent and rapid action to protect your heart and your future. This is why we try and notice disloyalty and deal with it earlier!
But if it is at this late stage there are a number of steps you should take today:
1. Remove the backstabber from all positions of leadership immediately. You are not about to let this person keep having influence you give them. In Scripture, pastors appoint elders not the other way around!
2. Don’t get upset at people leaving – some of them were never with you in the first place. Better you know that now. Focus on those who stay. Show them love, preach life and grace to them, help them walk in victory. Keep going for their sake.
3. Deal with bitterness. Get rid of it. Forgive the backstabber. Love them to pieces.
4. Don’t let them back into your inner sanctum of friends again. Not after a significant amount of time and proving. They can be welcome in the church if you feel comfortable, but keep a fence between you and them. Don’t give them the bullets to shoot you with.
If you need any help dealing with backstabbers – or you have experience or wisdom you want to share please comment below!
Grace and peace,