Dealing with difficult people


When you lead a group, you will deal with people.  And eventually, you will come across group members with problems like these. 


With each type of problem person, prayer is a key.  God has brought the person to your group for a reason, and it might be to help you grow as a disciple and a leader.  Pray for the person, ask for wisdom to handle the situation, and invite God to show you what you need to learn from this challenge.


The 'Sherman Tank'

·         Take the initiative to protect the group.

·         Sit next to this strong person.

·         Interrupt with, "Not all of us feel that way."

·         Stand up to the person in private.

·         Channel the person's strengths into appropriate ministry, either in the group or in the congregation.


The 'Space Cadet'

·         Do not put them in key leadership positions.

·         Do tap their creativity.

·         Listen to their ideas.

·         Do not evaluate your leadership by their response.


The 'Volcano'

·         When they explode, ask them to leave the meeting.

·         Remain calm and ask them to sit down.

·         Listen.  Minimize the tension by asking for details that explain the problem.  But do not let the person's anger dominate the group's energy.

·         Outside the group, help the person see how anger comes across to others.  Invite them to view the group as a place to practice better relational patterns. 


The 'Baby'

·         Counter all of their negatives with positives.

·         Do not reward pouting.  Your silence can imply agreement.

·         Be honest and direct.  Teach them that moodiness is a choice.

·         Activate the person's strengths by helping them find ways to serve, either in the group or in the congregation.

·         If all else fails, remember that two can play the victim game.  After your baby whines, "out-baby" the person with a preposterous concern such as:  "Wow.  With all that crisis, we need to pray that you survive our meeting without a nervous breakdown.  What is your doctor's phone number, just in case?"  A playful spirit can gently expose the silliness of the person's anxieties.


The 'Skunk'

·         Always consuming the group's energy with the crisis of the week.

·         Handle like the 'baby.'


The 'Gossip'

·         Talk one on one.

·         Ask them why they shared this information.  Remind them of the group covenant to keep discussions confidential.

·         Give them a chance to confess and make things right with the group.

·         Extend grace to them and invite them to stay in the group.

·         If problems continue, talk to a church leader about dismissing the person from the group.


You might call your problem people EGR's - Extra Grace Required!  With each one, remember that you are also an EGR, and God has been gracious in giving you the extra grace you need.  EGR's give the group a chance to demonstrate self-sacrificing love like Jesus did.