I devoted this entire podcast to answering a listener question. Here’s the question from Bill:
“Is it only the profession of Pastor that people feel so free to say whatever rude thing they wish to say simply to let you know what they think? I am utterly amazed at some of the things members have said to me over the years.”
1. It’s not just pastors. Anyone in a position of leadership, any decision maker, especially those whose positions are service oriented. People have a perception that you exist to serve my needs and make me happy. True leaders will not respond in kind and rude people know it.
2. Our culture has become more rude in general. Some expressions of that:
(1) Lack of respect for authority … For anyone … Including self … If you respect yourself you will consider how it makes you look to be rude.
(2) No filters … Instant broadcast through social media … No time to cool off.
(3) Pack mentality… Dog pile.
(4) Sense of powerlessness … If I can’t really make a difference, at least I can be heard.
(5) Sense of entitlement … I have a right to saw what I think.
3. Rude is in the eyes of the beholder. Every question is not a criticism. Every expression of disagreement is not rude. When someone refuses to be sucked into someone else’s drama, it is not rude. We all need to lighten up!
4. Rudeness is not going away. So, we better learn how to deal with it.
1. Consider the source. Hurt people hurt people. No one is born rude. Self-centered, yes. Rude, no. It is a trait that is learned and developed often out of painful experiences and reinforced over time. Sometimes you are “getting someone else’s mail.”
2. As much as you would like to, don’t respond in kind. Romans 12:18 – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 1 Peter 3:9 – “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called.” Someone has to take the high road and model appropriate behavior. And sometimes the high road is a steep climb.
Someone has to take the high road and model appropriate behavior. And sometimes the high road is a steep climb. Click To Tweet
3. Part of leadership is holding up a higher standard. Deliberate rudeness shouldn’t be condoned or tolerated. If the rudeness is on social media, it is appropriate to delete a comment or even block a person who persists. That’s fairly easy. The hard part is when it is in conversation, either in person or on the phone. Sometimes you just need to tell a person, “I am willing to listen to any complaint you have, but I’m not willing to be spoken to disrespectfully. I won’t speak that way to you and I’m not going to be spoken to by you in that way. If we can’t continue respectfully then this meeting or phone call is over until we can.” If we truly love people, we will love them like they are, but we will do what we can to help them become what God intends for them to be.
4. Never underestimate the power of Holy Spirit when we pray. One of the best ways to refocus a conversation or even a group meeting is to say, “I think we are getting off focus and going in a direction that is not honoring to God or each other. Could we just stop right now and pray together?” If they are not willing to do that, you are wasting your time with any further conversation. It may be time to say, “Then I’m going to excuse myself.” Maybe we can get back together later when we can focus better.” Then follow through!
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