5 Expectations Of Those Who Disagree

. . . . . 

Effectively navigating a ministry or local church has its challenges. While there are long periods of time when the weather is fair and sunny, there are also days of uncertain course planning, choppy waters, and storms that interrupt those periods.

There will always be those who . . . .

  • privately differ
  • “off the record” differ and convey their disagreement with family or friends, and
  • personally and directly express their opposition to a decision or action to “leadership.”

Some of the obvious reasons for that reality is that the crew is varied in abilities and gifts [1], backgrounds and experiences are diverse, personalities are assorted, and spirituality is mixed [2] 

Sometimes, ministries destabilize and even crash, and churches crack and even split.[3]. One of the reasons these outcomes happen is because there is a woeful failure in understanding personal expectations. At times, leaders and pastors fail to grasp the reasonable expectations of those who voice their differences or disagreements. [4]. 

There are at least 5 expectations . . . . .

#1) A Response:  Those who express differing viewpoints and/or disagree with a decision or action are expecting at least a response. Whether a difference has been stated privately (and a leader/pastor is aware of such) [5], or directly, there is the expectation that there will be a genuine response. To ignore a meaningful disagreement, both known or expressed, is to communicate indifference and worse. At least respond by addressing it.  “Radio Silence,” hiding out, or “hunkering down” evinces little to no respect.

#2) A Reasonable Response: Those expressing differing viewpoints and/or disagreeing with a decision or action are expecting a reasonable response. To deflect from the issue, give a non-sensical answer, play word games, mislead or lie, and/or hide behind others is not seen as a reasonable response.  It is seen for what it is –excusing, justifying, political double-speak, and/or worse! [6]

#3) A Reasonable & Personal Response: Sending others in the place of the one who is responsible for a decision or action is seen for what it is — cowardice.  The responsibility for responding falls on all those who made the decision or took that action.  The leader or pastor should respond personally and directly.  If it was clearly a joint decision by multiple pastors/leaders, they should respond personally.  That approach is what communicates a sense of personal responsibility and mutual respect. 

#4) A Reasonable, Personal, & Caring Response:  Not responding, not personally responding, are part of an uncaring response.  More than that, the personal conversation ought to convey that they and their opinions. thoughts, insights, vantage, position genuinely matter.  “Caring less” is not only unproductive, but hardly reflects Jesus — Philippians 2:3.

#5) A Reasonable, Personal, Caring, & Humble Response:  Part of caring involves reflecting some humility.  As a leader or pastor, you don’t have all the answers and are not always right.  How about, “I think I  am / was right, but I may be wrong?” — to come across otherwise is to aggravate the situation. 

Hubris, pride, arrogance, exerting your position, and the like is not Jesus!  In word and bodily demeanor, there should be a demonstration of humility.  If there was a failure or even wrong-doing, admit it quickly (Proverbs 6:2-5).  Don’t force someone to drag you to that admission, “kicking and screaming!” [7]

. . . . . 

There are reasons that people write “An Open Letter,” [8] and one of the reasons is due to the poor handling of people, their differences, and their differing! 

. . . . . 

A Response,
A Reasonable Response,
A Reasonable and Personal Response,
A Reasonable, Personal and Caring Response,
A Reasonable, Personal, Caring, and Humble Response

. . . . . is expected!

. . . . . 

Showing respect and common decency is not only expected, but is owed to those who have and/or continue to serve and contribute to the effectiveness of the ministry or local church.

. . . . . 



1. “Spiritual gifts” motivate the responses.  A person with the gift of mercy is quick to dismiss the underlying causes or reasons and also to not understand someone with the gift of administration. A person with the gift of administration is seeking a better way to address a situation, and not understand someone with the gift of mercy. A person with the gift of “prophecy” may be focused on identifying the warning signs that this was coming and not understand someone with the gift of giving. A person with the gift of giving seeks to solve the situation by giving time and money to address it, and does not understand the need to identify the warning signs. Spiritual gifts are one of the reasons that we differ and even clash.

2. If a local church is healthy, there will be a wide diversity in spiritual growth. New, old, fairly new, very old, and all ranges in between will compose the church that is effectively reaching its “Jerusalem.”

3. There are NO LACK of examples —  of both — in recent months, RZIM / SBC / Financial Peace University or First Baptist Church of Ft. Lauderdale / James MacDonald / David Platt

4. Sometimes, those differences or disagreements are not personally or directly voiced to the leaders, but they are known to the leader(s) or pastor(s). To take the position that someone must come to you and voice them personally and directly before you will meet any of the expectations is not only unwise, but unbiblical — Matthew 5:23-24.

5. Seeking peace and unity is not only a requirement of those who differ or disagree, but ought to be sought by those in leadership. I Peter 3:8-11 applies to both sides of the equation. Purposefully and pointedly addressing known issues and criticisms from the pulpit is not a way to seek peace, nor is it biblical — Matthew 5:23-24.

6. Let me add that throwing others under the bus, or worse yet, misleading or lying, seldom creates peace and unity. 

Note: Sadly, there are ministry leaders, chairmen of deacon boards, and pastors who have lied to cover up their self-serving and duplicitous actions.  If you think that such misleading or lying will not be discovered, you are naive.

7. How about just a recognition that . . . .

“I could have done it better.”  Not “we could have, “but “I could have.”   

Maybe even, “I could have, and should have.” 

Maybe even “I could have, should have, and did not.”

How about, “I could have, should have, did not, and my heart was not right in making that decision or taking that action.  It was unloving.” — OUCH

8. “An Open Letter”:  There are those such as Bari Weiss in the secular world, and a number of others in the religious world, especially when it comes to the abuse of others in ministry, that issued “Open Letters.”  Why?  Because they were denied a right, reasonable, honest, humble, and caring response.   The weight of responsibility is not only born by the writer of such “Open Letters,” but by those who failed to respond, and respond rightly!

9. Ministry leaders and pastors can’t speak out of both sides of our mouth by saying that people need to communicate, communicate with leadership, or should have communicated only with the leadership (an untenable position, unfollowed by the leaders themselves), and then not met the fair expectations of those who do communicate!


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