Presentation on theme: "CLUES FOR SHEPHERDS What to look for to identify and address the problems of severely disruptive people in your community and when to seek help By Barbara."— Presentation transcript:
CLUES FOR SHEPHERDS What to look for to identify and address the problems of severely disruptive people in your community and when to seek help By Barbara L. Klika, MSW Undershepherd, Set Apart Ministries, Inc.
WHO IS THIS TEACHING FOR? Those who have positions of leadership involving shepherding within a home fellowship or congregation. Those who particularly are called to a relational ministry. (rather than those whose primary gifting or involvement is teaching) Those who have experienced conflict with people in the course of their ministry which seems above and beyond the more normal struggles. Those shepherds who do not have any background to help them differentiate between spiritual and emotional problems. Those shepherds who have seen either explosive conflict or subtle, simmering, creeping conflict that divides or destroys their community.
WHAT THIS TEACHING CAN DO It offers information & resources about the normal struggles of maturity that often become obvious in close relationships. It offers some basic observations of what psychological or emotional problems “look like” in the context of community. It suggests considerations that would help determine what is considered severe. (continued)
It can provide some background information and markers that will help shepherds to understand what kind of questions need to be asked to evaluate both personal and group dynamics. It can help a community determine what kind of response it deems appropriate to make to such severely disruptive people. It suggests some guidelines to observe with severely troublesome people that will help maintain stability for the leaders, members and for the corporate community identity itself.
WHAT THIS TEACHING CANNOT DO It cannot provide adequate specifics to address every conceivable problem nor can it provide a “diagnosis” for any individual. It cannot provide a final judgment of any situation, but only point the way. It cannot equip each leader or community with adequate knowledge to fully address the identified issues, again only pointing the way. It cannot dictate to any community what the “correct” response should be for that community.
PRAYER IS THE BASIS FOR ANY INTERVENTION Abba Father, as I offer these “clues” I ask for Your wisdom and understanding to flow through them to provide wise counsel for all those who have been hurt while ministering to Your people. Please guard these words against misuse. I ask for a renewal of spirit and heart for each of us as we see just how dirty and bedraggled sheep without a shepherd can be so that we can see them through Your eyes. Please give us Your heart in each of these matters! We ask that You would not only expose the works of the world, the flesh and the evil one as they hinder and harass Your people but also that you provide us with the courage, patience, and motivation to see what is exposed brought to a conclusion that honors You. May it be so.
PRAYER INTERVENTION Our God does not want to be our last resort, but the first place we begin to deal with any situation, personal or otherwise. A well developed prayer life for leaders and members is a wonderful foundation and should be actively encouraged and taught! The well being of the community is dependent on the well being of the individuals that make it up… And conversely, the well being of the individuals is dependent on the corporate well being of the community as well.
Awareness of various types of prayer embedded in the culture of the faith community will provide a strong foundation when troubles arrive…and they WILL arrive. Expect conflicts to arise and they will not be so devastating as the prayer intervention is already active! There are differences in personal and corporate prayer style and content. If you are not aware of them, check it out and be ready to address these issues in your community. There is also a major difference between prayers that come from a fearful weak position and those that come from an awareness of our position in Messiah, ABOVE powers, principalities, thrones and dominions!
TYPICAL SCENARIOS Community and Personal Struggles
FOR MESSIANIC COMMUNITIES THESE ARE OFTEN DIVISIVE ISSUES Yeshua as YHWH Men’s and women’s roles Which calendar to observe What kind of Shabbat Gatherings: place, time, style Activities that are or are not acceptable for Shabbat Food Issues: Kashrut or not, quantity, type, issues of gluttony or genuine hunger, vegetarian or not, etc. Judah –Joseph or “One New Man” identity struggles Type of study, type of worship, live music or not, style of music Type or style of clothing Type or style of leadership, organization, authority, accountability
BEGINNING INTERVENTION STEPS
FILL IN THE BLANK No doubt, you can add some specific struggles that you have experienced. REFLECT ON THE INTERACTIONS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED There will be both pleasant and unpleasant experiences to consider. Step back from the topic to consider the process. More understanding surfaces through consideration of HOW things are happening than is often apparent in just WHAT is happening.
SAMPLE PROCESS QUESTIONS How did various people behave? Who offered serious considerations? Who was emotional or irrational? Who appeared to be the stabilizing influences or the agitators? Were these predictable behaviors? Did you find yourself dreading to hear from anyone? Did you find yourself yearning to hear from anyone? Did anyone specifically “side” with anyone else? What behavior was I contributing, personally considering each of these same questions?
MATERIALS MUST BE IN HARMONY WITH SCRIPTURAL TRUTHS I think it is fair to say that most of us do not want to draw from any material that would contradict the Word. Yet, specifics of dealing with disruptive people and interpersonal conflict are not often clearly detailed within Scripture. The comparison can be made to science; not all of science is found in the pages of Scripture but all true science will be in harmony with it.
In Scriptural terms, we have often spoken of the challenges of considering whether troublesome people are sheep or goats; just immature wheat, tares, or outright wolves. Intervention is different depending on which category we see, and we must always be aware that only YHWH can see the heart…though we ARE to consider the fruit in our discernment. Patterns can help us in this process.
LOOKING FOR PATTERNS This has been the most contentious point for those most difficult people. They do not like it that others are aware of patterns of their behavior. Yet it is awareness of patterns that begins to distinguish the more serious issues from the “normal” or common ones. Is it needless to say that we must be aware of our own patterns and have people around us who are also aware and can hold us accountable? Sometimes the important patterns of behavior will be consistent over time. Sometimes they will vary dramatically to the point one wonders if it is really the same person behaving in such contradictory ways! More on this later.
ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE “NORMAL” Having stepped back from the content of difficulties and having begun to watch the process for patterns of behavior, it becomes important to be able to define what is normal and what is abnormal. We strongly recommend “The Life Model” as the most comprehensive model of patterns of growth and maturity. It provides basic information on what is age appropriate or not, from infant to elder stages. It includes awareness of our God as our Creator Who designed us to be relational. A verbal summary of these stages is available in our CD “Maturity in Prayer Life” and the chart from the book is available in our article on Love and Fear Bonds in Faith. “Maturity in Prayer Life” Love and Fear Bonds in Faith “Living with Men” also by E. James Wilder, is an in-depth version of the more abbreviated original Life Model material. It has application for both men and women.
WISE USE OF TIME Most leaders have full plates and inadequate time ( or even desire!) to become experts in human development but this is NOT necessary! A grasp on the basics of maturity and development will usually serve to be able to recognize what is normal and what is not! Like the study of counterfeit money detection, which concentrates on knowing the REAL thing, so do we want to concentrate on what is good and right, but in such a way that we can begin to identify some thing that is out of line. The Life Model does not rely on mental health diagnostic information but rather on observable things. There are supporting materials available to use in personal and group study that will require some investment of thought, prayer and time.
RESOURCES Maturity in Prayer Life -- by Set Apart Ministries CD that applies maturity stages to the development of our prayer lives. Maturity in Prayer Life Self Worth and Responsibility - by Barbara L. Klika, MSW Articles and charts dealing with personal worth and how it plays out internally & in relationships Self Worth and Responsibility The Life Model – Living with Men -- by E. James Wilder Ph. D. Books, workbooks and DVDs that deal with stages of growth and maturity. Joy Bonds – by E. James Wilder, Ph. D. DVD that details God’s design in the workings of our mind, brain and relationships and how it affects ability to be in relationship and handle various circumstances.
FELLOWSHIP IDENTITY AND STAGE In our ongoing learning we have identified what we see as four common types of fellowship groups. More information on this will be found in our presentation “The Importance of Echad for Messianic Fellowships.”“The Importance of Echad for Messianic Fellowships.” We find that intervention and successful resolution of problems with disruptive people and interpersonal conflict becomes more viable as a group is closer to stages 3 and 4 rather than stages 1 and 2. This is described in our introduction to “What Shepherd’s Need to Know” series. introduction to “What Shepherd’s Need to Know” (continued)
Briefly, if a group remains casual with transient members and unclear boundaries and fluid leadership, there will be no opportunity to assist in identification and resolution of any type of serious conflict. It is only when a group has boundaries, personal commitments and an identity with recognized and accepted leadership of their elders that it is possible. Even then it is rarely easy! As you can probably confirm, all too often, any kind of effort to deal with issues results in people walking away, often spreading collateral damage on their way out. The iron sharpening iron process cannot happen.
INDIVIDUAL AND RELATIONAL Individuals do not operate in a vacuum. Sometimes a better picture does not come into focus until the interaction between various people is observed and included in observation of patterns. Though it will not be a consuming and long process to understand this, it will involve some commitment of time and focus to become better equipped. (continued)
We have found that it is unlikely for any intervention to be successful if both the leaders AND members have not been acquainted with these understandings before a conflict occurs. (more on this later) Therefore, we recommend that fellowship groups need to spend some time becoming familiar with these basic things. We generally would NOT include these matters on Shabbat where the focus is Messiah but each community has their own halacha and will determine how best to inform their people. (continued)
We have found a number of materials that help identify what is normal and what is abnormal in relationships. This has involved years of sifting through resources even prior to community, but especially informed over the last eleven years as a community. It is a body of knowledge that takes some time to assimilate, like the Life Model, but it is well worth the time invested to improve stability and reduce the damage done through both explosive unresolved conflict and long term, simmering conflict.
DRAMA TRIANGLES ABOUND A very insightful piece of understanding about interpersonal conflict is found in the teachings of Dr. Stephan Karpmann, who graciously has given us permission to incorporate his work for the benefit of Messianic Communities. When patterns between people are observed, it will quickly be seen that Dr. Karpmann was correct in this analysis that unfruitful conflict interactions usually include three roles: victim, persecutor and rescuer. Individuals are usually unaware that they have acted as though there was a script in the interaction. (continued)
The challenge is to not fall into any of these roles, but respond rather than react to them, staying in a neutral position, OFF the triangle! This pattern is so frequently seen that we would consider it generally within the “normal” range of difficulties. Common but not really “normal” to be more specific. It is examined at length in our CD “Drama Triangles for Messianic Communities” including an analysis of how this might have been perceived with Paul’s visit to the Galatians.“Drama Triangles for Messianic Communities”
LEARNING & USING DRAMA TRIANGLE I have described a “backwards learning “ process in which we usually can first recognize when we have experienced this pattern long ago, then more recently, and in step three, recognize it AS it is happening so that we can put a stop to it before more harm is done. Step 4 is the joyful one where we can see it coming and step out BEFORE it even begins! I have watched people in this process which can be accomplished in just a matter of weeks to months, and less often, years before it is so much a part of their awareness that they can apply it without having to consciously think about it. It could move to a severity indicator if an individual resists understanding and accountability or is unable to incorporate and use this information after a reasonable amount of exposure and practice.
SHEPHERDS BEWARE! Have you found yourself in the drama triangle? Have you learned that you often fall into one or more roles without your awareness? Does this happen only in family relationships or does it happen among your colleagues or fellow workers, or with your fellowship members? Usually, if we fall into it in one setting, we are susceptible to it in all. Before you will be able to be of much help to others, you will need to overcome your own unhelpful pattern! Prayerfully confess this to our Abba Who is well able to sustain us and enlist the help of some trusted people for accountability.
RESOURCES The Importance of Echad for Messianic Fellowships - Set Apart Ministries PowerPoint presentation on relationship between personal and corporate growth & ability to resist the schemes of the evil one. The Importance of Echad for Messianic Fellowships Drama Triangles for Messianic Communities - Set Apart Ministries CD Drama Triangles for Messianic Communities Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend Books, workbooks, videos Reactivity – by Phil DeLuca, MSW video Banana Baseball - E. James Wilder, Ph.D. DVD on brain development, the nucleus accumbens, and the connections with relational problems & addictions The Verbal Logical Explainer - Dr. Karl Lehman DVD on brain function and impact of previous experiences on current ability to respond well to circumstances.
INDIVIDUAL & RELATIONAL CRITERIA The criteria to determine the severity of a situation are somewhat variable; often specific to a community or occurrence of some kind. It may become apparent at an individual level, or as interaction is observed between that person and a few others, or when an entire community is involved. Individually, it may have to do with decreasing ability to function; what psychologists call “decompensating” and lay people call “falling apart.” Relationally, it may involve unresolved conflicts between two or more people that intrude on the entire community. You know the tension that results when a group is too well aware of a disagreement between people among them? Watch for recurrent Drama Triangles here.
COMMUNITY WIDE CRITERIA Sometimes a behavior erupts to the point that it involves the entire community, destabilizing and often destroying that community if it can’t be prayerfully and wisely resolved quickly. This is another place to be aware of the formation of Drama Triangles which involve “pitting” one or more members against one another when people feel compelled to “take a side.” It is especially devastating when such triangles involve pitting one or more members against a leader or the leadership team.
MATTHEW 18 Most people with a Scriptural knowledge will be well aware of these instructions to deal with sin, which so often brings conflict; dealing first individually, then if unheard and unresolved, taking a witness, and lastly, if not yet resolved, taking it before the community. From years of observation and participation in faith-based groups attempts to deal with conflict I can say that it is a sad realization that this process rarely happens. If it is begun, it is often not followed through to completion. It requires a great deal of maturity for these guidelines to be observed, and in America at least, such maturity has not been the “norm” for at least a generation, if not more.
MATURITY REQUIRED The need for maturity to resolve conflicts-- or matters of sin-- in a YHWH honoring way involves things that go right back to a child level of tasks: o having the character to make one self do a hard thing; o being able to both ask for and receive what is needed without fear, o having enough joy strength and confidence in Messiah to be able to endure the anxiety and discomfort; o the ability to step back from any emotions involved to review objectively. There is much more to be said but this gives a glimpse. Remember too, that chronological age reached often has little to do with the functional maturity of an individual.
STRENGTH TO STAND This is a difficult concept to address but perhaps you will recognize it. Among the “pool” of people who have come to an awareness of the Hebrew roots of our faith and taken the step out of traditional or institutional churches will be found individuals who have the tenacity and determination to do what they see to be right, no matter how difficult the consequences. (continued)
That same tenacity and ability to individuate from their former faith community may also show itself in a resistance to commitment or oppositional behavior once in a new group. One example: Suspicious of things they don’t yet understand, they may be protective of their “turf” and unwilling to fully commit to any new group that might again prove to be “wrong.” They may find it easier to walk away again, rather than to ‘Pray, Stay and Not Run Away.’
KORAH, DATHAN & ABIRAM I have recently seen a Scriptural example in the story of Korah’s rebellion. These leaders were in close proximity to one another around the Tabernacle, as you will see if you draw out a chart of their tribal positions. The Levites led by Korah were on the south side as were the Reubenites. Close proximity offers the opportunity to collude or collaborate. While in western culture we are more oriented toward facing North, in the Hebraic sense, one faces east, thus the south side represents the right hand. It can also represent strength. (continued)
I found it interesting that the greatest challenge to Moshe and Aharon’s leadership came from the area that should have been their own right hand of strength, but instead that strength was used in rebellion. It requires some kind of strength to oppose and sometimes, opposition becomes a way of life.
INDIVIDUAL TO RELATIONAL If an individual is having issues but doesn’t involve any one other than the leadership, it may avoid the triangulation effects of drawing others in and so it may seem less severe. Unfortunately, sometimes there are efforts by individuals to monopolize a leader or draw them into an inappropriate circumstance, often completely outside of their own conscious awareness! (continued)
The leader must have the maturity and wisdom to recognize such dangers and flee from them, also obtaining prayer cover and accountability as needed from other trustworthy people. This kind of situation may never come to the attention of more than the close circle of leadership but can cause great harm under the surface if not appropriately handled. Leaders also need to know when they are legally under obligation to report various kinds of situations of abuse.
This would include that situation in which there are emotional or mental health issues operating for the individual. While I do not care for “diagnostic labels” they are helpful in some cases to describe a set of behaviors. Suffice it to say here that there are two areas to be aware of: (continued)
Personal adjustment issues & Personality Issues The first involves things like anxiety or depression or situational stressors such as divorce, bereavement or even happy things like a marriage or the birth of a child. They are more changeable over time but watch for recurring patterns here, too. The second involves personality and character attributes that do seem to have a genetic component, and these issues will be more long term and difficult to change.
Underneath it all, we do need to retain our awareness that we serve an awesome God, Our Great Shepherd, Who Can and Who Has done miraculous things. It is more often our resistance that limits than it is His Ability.
Each situation can be severe in its own way. The leader/shepherd needs to be aware of the areas in which they have knowledge to help and where they do not, referring as needed. This presents its own challenge as well as it is often difficult to know where to obtain appropriate help. This is another issues entirely and can’t be adequately addressed here. (continued)
Ideally, I believe that our Abba intended for each community to have their own generations of those at parent and elder level maturity to be of wise prayerful guidance to the younger ones. At Set Apart Ministries, we are committed to building up that generation of elders and encourage others to do the same.
Any one can have a personal or family crisis. Such situations are usually called “acute” rather than “chronic” and can surely be difficult to handle. Still, the person who has repeated such crises may be one of the “difficult ones” who represents a severity challenge. Sometimes it will become evident that their own unwise choices contribute and in this case, their willingness or unwillingness to receive counsel will determine their course.
At some point, we believe that someone who is repeatedly unwilling to receive or act on counsel needs to be confronted as to whether or not they have really accepted the authority of their shepherd. (NOTE: This is only really possible within an established community that has existing firm, clear boundaries with stable leadership.) If they have not, they may not be able to stay as they bring recurrent chaos in their wake. In our experience, often people decide to take themselves out if they are actually held accountable in this way.
It is a difficult call to make and can even result in drama triangles at times but we find it is better to deal with it directly than to let it simmer. A key is the depth of confidence that members have in their leadership so that they do not themselves doubt things were handled well, no matter what kind of “story” may circulate. Knowing our fallibilities, we have often spoken of realizing it is about trusting Messiah IN US, rather than the individual alone.
MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER (MPD) Professionally, I was taught that MPD, now called Dissociative Identity Disorder DID) was rare. In practice, I have spoken with dozens and dozens of people who have some kind of dissociation issues, from simple to complex, from “normal” trauma such as physical or sexual abuse to “extreme” trauma of satanic ritual abuse. I no longer believe it to be rare, but in fact quite common. (continued)
This population represents a special challenge to home fellowship groups, and especially to Messianic ones for reasons too complex to address here. In fact, this is a main factor behind my efforts here to help equip shepherds. Though I view it as a coping mechanism more than an illness, people with DID issues, knowingly or unknowingly, have been used to be overtly or covertly active in stirring up discontent and conflict.
The salient point here for shepherds to retain is that these people present a major challenge that should not be ignored. Being unaware of the impact of having people who are capable of having completely different “agenda’s “ in their participation leaves a group far too vulnerable to manipulation, be it of human or demonic sources. If you begin to see indications of one or more of these kinds of signs, please be prayerfully aware that you may not be dealing with a “single” person, but one who has many internal splits, even and especially to the point that one part or parts may be committed to Messiah while another part or parts is committed to the evil one.
SAMPLE INDICATORS Widely divergent style of dress or personal hygiene. Widely divergent speech or mannerisms, sometimes perhaps appearing more adult others more childish, or more feminine or more masculine. Widely divergent skills or knowledge base from one time to another. Widely divergent knowledge of Scripture or ability to walk in faith. Immediate attraction or revulsion between people with no obvious reason. (continued)
Despite apparent pleasant demeanor, a trail of conflict follows them –it may be between them and other people, OR between other people with whom they have spent time. This can also involve sudden disruption for no clear reason in previously stable relationships. Someone who has dissociative characteristics is often very good at helping to “spot” others. (Some of our people have joked about those who don’t realize or acknowledge their multiplicity as being “MID” --Multiples In Denial.) Don’t immediately dismiss expressed concerns but evaluate carefully over time.
COMMUNITY An issue of mild concern may have a small number of people concerned or upset. One of moderate intensity will likely involve more people and /or those in leadership. These issues may be wrangling with how to deal with various situations or people but do not include any kind of tension so intense or unbearable that it would cause people to avoid being together.
The severe issues at a community level involve most of the people most of the time and may have to do with various content issues as listed earlier or issues related to the very identity and boundaries of the group itself. Since most Messianic fellowships have paid a great deal of attention to the study of the Word but almost no attention to the fabric of the relationships that make up the community, they are very vulnerable to such struggles.
IMMUNIZATION The best way to deal with severe community level conflict that I am aware of is to have “immunized” the people ahead of time! When people have enough information to recognize the kinds of personal or interpersonal events it will help to defuse the intensity of their responses from the beginning. It will also increase their hopefulness that it can be resolved without having to break apart. This is especially true for those at adult, parent or elder levels of maturity as they can be a stabilizing influence for those who are more emotionally volatile.
DAMAGE CONTROL If a community has had no preparation, the best that can happen is to learn how to intervene effectively so as to minimize the overall damage. It must go without saying that personally deep searching and intercessory prayer is a necessary foundation for any effort. It will involve a lot of time listening and processing the various points of view, again looking for patterns to help comprehend what is happening.
RECURRING OR ENTRENCHED ISSUES Any community that finds itself in recurring issues or has issues that just don’t seem to go away would likely benefit from assistance from a trusted advisor who shares their faith and general worldview. Even the most objective shepherd leader may be perceived as being biased or involved though it may not be accurate. A mediator or mentor who can remain stable, joyful in Messiah, and confident that the issues can be resolved will be helpful to restore hope for resolution in community members.
SUMMARY Clues for Shepherds
PROCESS NOT CONTENT Cover all things in prayer! Listen for how things are happening rather than the subject matter alone. Be aware of normal development and expectations so as to be able to recognize abnormal behaviors. Commit some time to understanding personal and group dynamics. Humbly asses one’s own behaviors and maturity status before attempting to provide encouragement elsewhere. (continued)
Be aware of individual, interpersonal and community wide levels of evaluation and needs. If possible, “immunize” the community prior to any major struggles, personal, interpersonal or community wide to give all the tools they need to move through it with less anxiety about the outcome. Seek assistance sooner rather than later if you are not well equipped.
TELECONFERENCES If you would like to discuss any of these issues further, we will be happy to schedule a teleconference any time 5-10 people are interested and able to meet at an agreed upon time or times. We are also quite willing to visit communities that want additional information. Private consultations are also available. Please do let us know how these Clues are helpful for you, and if there is something else you’d like to see added or further clarified.
ALL PRAISE TO MESSIAH YESHUA! The Author and Finisher of our faith to whom none of these things come as a surprise. Our El Shaddai, the all powerful, all sufficient One who is well able to build us together to be the living stones of which He spoke. Our Redeemer who is ever living to make intercession for us. Our soon coming King and Bridegroom to be! The One Who gives me songs and counsel in the night.
Barbara L. Klika, MSW Undershepherd Set Apart Ministries Inc. P. O. Box 5584 De Pere, WI (920) antandgrowmessianicfellowships.organtandgrowmessianicfellowships.org