A Note From Kelly King: The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is a huge lie. Words matter. It might be OK to have a different opinion than others, but creating conflict over a different opinion on social media hurts. Plus, it’s not just between two people. It’s public information for anyone who can see your social media. In today’s article, Deb Douglas gives us some practical and wise ways to respond to critics.
I cringe over social media posts attacking anyone with a different opinion. Public attacks have become a socially acceptable, despicable hobby. Whether the attacker feels justified, clever, or puffed up with self-satisfaction, the attacks can sting and cause permanent damage to the one who is attacked.
How do you respond to attacks from church members, other Christians, and other leaders?
- Practice grace. The attack may be a reaction to a deeper hurt or merely a bad day. Unless the attack is impacting others within the church in negative ways, be gracious, pray, and move on.
- Put arguing aside. Arguing rarely creates resolution. Instead, animosity can lead to bitterness that can damage the ministry.
- Pray before confronting. Pray with the person. Agree to continue to pray together.
- Take a look at perspectives beyond our own.
- Put people-pleasing aside. Within the diversity of opinions and perspectives, we cannot agree with everyone or please everyone.
- Be an example. Be an example to others by steering clear of attacking others on social media.
In order to ease the awkwardness of attacks, our best response is a grace response.
What is grace and how do we give grace to others?
- Grace is knowing we are not always right, but that is OK.
- Grace is knowing we too wish to attack others at times, but don’t.
- Grace is willing to see others as God sees them. It is seeing us as God does.
- Grace is loving someone despite her opinions or actions and knowing that God does the same for us.
As with any messy ministry challenge, we have to stay prepared for attacks.
- Pray without ceasing.
- Remember the Scriptures, finding comfort and direction:
- Love one another.
- Submit to one another. This does not mean we have to say the other person is correct, and we are wrong. It means we will listen to them.
- Submit to authority. In the most difficult of attacks, we need to share the circumstances with the authority over us and submit to their direction and guidance.
- Forgive because we have been forgiven.
- Be holy. Stay above the fray and away from attacking others.
Ministry will always have challenges. With messy ministry come messy attacks of our family, our church, our church staff, our beliefs, and us. Be prepared by striving to walk ever closer in following Christ. Ministry is messy. Be ready!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.