Loyalty 8: Signs of Disloyalty 5 – the Backstab

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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,

Benjamin

 

Loyalty 6… Signs of Disloyalty 3: Criticism

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Hi there, my name is Benjamin Conway, and I am the pastor of Tree of Life Church in Dagenham.  We are currently looking at the topic of Loyalty – something you need to cultivate as a leader. 

As soon as someone gets to the passive stage of disloyalty (stage 2, as discussed here), you need to know that the next step is criticism.  It’s an easy step – someone gets to the stage where they are annoyed and offended to the point where they stop building the house, they are now in a position to start criticizing how the house is being built.

Someone quits the children’s ministry – not because God is leading them to a new opportunity, but because of offense.  Leave it a while because they will next start to subtly attack the children’s ministry:

“They don’t care for the kids anymore…”

“It’s too worldly…”

“It’s too religious”

“If I was still there, I would…”

They have now stopped building the wall and started ripping down the wall.  They have stopped living for the vision and started finding fault with the vision.  You can only move into the critical phase if you have first stopped working.  People on the team don’t rip the team apart – only the people who have left the team spectate and criticize the team!

When someone is critical you need to watch out – you have an explosion coming.  Now – you might not know that person is critical because they may take their criticisms elsewhere.  But you need to know that a critical person is hard to help.

At this stage, someone will ask “what about a legitimate criticism?”,  That’s a great question, and there are three simple ways to tell the difference between a legitimate criticism and a critical attitude that will lead to disloyalty.

1.  A genuine criticism can be resolved.  Let’s say you were round someone’s house and broke a lamp or something.  They may have genuine reason to criticize you.  But if you buy them a new lamp of equivalent value and style, then it has been resolved.  A critical attitude cannot be resolved.  The person is offended and nothing will make them happy.  You can try a few times but it won’t work.

2.  A genuine criticism is reasonable.  Other people can see it – if you are wise, you can hear the truth in it yourself.  A critical attitude is unreasonable.  A genuine criticism is that the sound quality at the back of the hall was not good today.  A critical attitude wants you to resign, the board to resign and all the elders to resign as they don’t have the right revelations.

3. A genuine criticism is constructive.  The person giving the criticism wants to help, wants to move things forward – they are looking for unity, restoration, progress and building.  A critical attitude is destructive – it wants to rip things apart, it wants to hurt, it wants the win.  Often people who are insecure end up in this stage quickly – the only way they can feel good about themselves is ensuring everyone else feels bad about themselves so they lay into people.

Dealing with this phase is difficult.  People are warm – they are getting hot and are ready to explode quickly and they move onto the political phase quickly.  We will discuss that next week, but let’s conclude this week with three steps to handle critical people in your church, business or camp:

1.  Don’t give them responsibility.  They have probably taken themselves out of any position that involves work in the passive stage, but now they will look for a position that involves responsibility over other performance but no actual work.  Don’t do it.  Don’t be pressured by it.  If someone explodes because you didn’t make them an elder, rejoice – they would have exploded AS an elder at some point and it’s good that didn’t happen.

2. Don’t let criticism from those with attitude get to you.  Don’t even respond to it.  You are not criticism led, you are Spirit led.  That’s a fact.  You should not even respond.  I don’t respond to emails that just tear down, I don’t respond to people who rip me apart and attack our church.  I don’t respond – not even one bit.  I don’t move, I don’t change what I am doing, I don’t fret about it, I don’t lose sleep over it.  Their behaviour is their responsibility.  Their attitude is their responsibility.  I am responsible before God to do what I am called to do.

(As an aside, Facebook is the best way to criticize me if you want to – it has a block button and everything.  It’s awesome!)

3.  Don’t fight fire with fire.  When someone comes at your with criticism, the temptation is point out that they are not all that.  It is a real temptation to tear them to pieces.  Don’t do it.  Bless those who curse you.