Power Struggles

Here’s a newsflash for you: churches have power struggles. (I’ll bet you were surprised.) Often novice ministers are unprepared for this fact of church life. This is why a mentor is so important because it is usually at the first board meeting our husband’s discover that sheep bite, and that supremacy in a church’s power structure is very important to some members.
Church members sometimes take on the characteristics of children. This makes sense when you realize we are their spiritual parents. One of their childish practices is to pit one pastoral partner against the other. It can be done in several ways, but one is by seeking the power of private knowledge: “Do not tell anyone about this, not even your wife (husband).”
We have found it levels the playing field in church politics by rarely agreeing to keep confidentialities from each other. When Michael is cautioned, “Let’s just keep this between ourselves,” he generally inquires why. We are one before God and therefore feel that free-flowing information is important to our ministry. It doesn’t mean that we do share it, just that the confider needs to know that we might share it with our spouse. The advantages are:
1. It keeps someone from gaining emotional superiority. Knowledge is power, and manipulators exult in the feeling that comes from being privy to information even the spouse doesn’t know.
2. It keeps both our eyes open to what’s going on in the church.
3. Two of us praying over a situation are better than one alone. This does not mean that I know everything. Michael is very wise in knowing what information I can emotionally handle and what needs to be kept to himself. It is not that I have to or do know everything, it is that when a situation arises in which little antennas go up and common sense demands: why shouldn’t my spouse know this? that we civilly inquire, why not? Just something to think about.


Are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker?  You may believe they’re the same, but they are not.
Peacekeepers believe in peace at any price.  Peacekeepers are parents who won’t admit the myriad of symptoms their teen exhibits mean he is doing drugs.  Peacekeepers are wives who excuse their husband’s brutality as stress from his job.  Peacekeepers, sometimes, are pastors’ wives who assert that their church people always love each other and never have any problems.  Peacemakers, however, admit conflict happens and openly confront the problem to bring about a resolution.  Peacemakers know a period of discomfort is the price of healthy, honest relationships.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).  So why, if the Bible says that peacemakers will be called children of God, isn’t that what people call me?  Is it because my version of peacemaking has been to find the quickest, least troublesome solution?  Do I believe maintaining status quo is more important than admitting there’s something wrong and dealing with the problem?  Could it be because when I finally get around to peacemaking the situation has reached such a fever pitch that the parties are in a full-scale war and aren’t interested in reconciliation?  Maybe it is because I concentrate more on people’s opinions than in following what Jesus tells me to do.
One of the most difficult responsibilities of leadership is correcting sheep gone astray.  It is so much easier to give warm fuzzies. Yet gentle correction is as necessary in God’s family as in our own. When you have to confront a wrong, remember to be obedient to God’s principles. Facing tough situations by adhering to God’s Word will keep you from taking sides. Make sure you speak the truth in love.  Something more easily done when you’ve spent time in prayer preparing for the encounter.  Finally, address problems while they’re small.  It is easier to deal with one small blaze than a whole forest fire. Be committed to peacemaking, not peacekeeping.
[Reprinted by permission from Brynwood Publishing.]