One of my experiences of leadership in a church is that you very often act as a lightning conductor. I am not commenting here upon whether or not that is a good or bad thing. Rather, I am making the observation that people very often want to get something off their chest and they view you, as a church elder as a safe, even appropriate place where they can do it.
Sometimes when people have dumped stuff on me I go away thinking there must be a crisis at hand. However, it soon becomes clear that there is nothing of the sort. Rather, they have relieved the puss that has been manufactured in their mulling over an issue. And once the puss is out then they feel so much better and move on.
Another aspect of this is the fact that I can feel that there must be others who are aware of a friction of difficulty in the life of the church, because someone has raised something with me. But it is not so. Rather, the fact that someone can give me a tough time has meant that they have not spread the matter in church. Thereby it is actually giving an opportunity for the church to flourish.
Now there are issues here that one has to be aware of:
- Is there a person committing sin in the way they are acting?
- Is there a need for an issue to be persued?
- Is there a need for the person raising an issue to actually go and sort the matter out with someone else?
- Are there people treating me as a priest in confession? We should be very wary of this, we do not want to act in such a way for people.
- Are they coming to the right person? They need to go direct to God so very often and not to us.
- Am I becoming proud that people are coming to me? They may be bringing hard stuff, but pride so very easily arises when we think that they are actually coming to us.
In all this though, if my pain from being a lightning conductor means that the church is blessed then all is well and good.