A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 2 Timothy 2:24
Every Christian is a servant of the Lord but there is no doubt that in this verse, Paul is particularly thinking of the responsibilities of church leaders. Clearly they cannot serve the Lord if they are prone to pick quarrels but, more than that, they need to be kind to everyone.
Kindness is a word which reflects the nature of Jesus. This doesn’t mean that church leaders should avoid getting into debate with opponents, or that they should side-step difficult situations. Far from it. Church leaders are called upon to face the toughest of challenges with gentleness, warmth and kindness.
Being patient with difficult people has always been a fundamental requirement of church leaders. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he referred to them suffering fools gladly (2 Corinthians 11:19). I once heard it said that our calling is not merely to suffer fools gladly but to enjoy them enormously! Every community will include people who are challenging and, if we are honest, we might recognise that we can be awkward and difficult at times.
We all approach life differently. Some are eager to keep everything and others are bored easily. Some enjoy traditional hymns and others prefer contemporary worship songs. Some are unhappy if things aren’t exactly the way they want them to be, and others are not that bothered. We all need to be constantly kind and patient but, in church leadership, this is often tested to the limit.
For many years, I have been involved in the selection of ministers. Amid the many qualifications and requirements, I believe that kindness and patience are close to the top of the list.
What would help you become more patient with difficult people?
Lord God, thank you for the church leaders who serve me. Fill them with your Spirit so that they will teach well and exercise their ministry with kindness and patience to all. Amen