A pastoral minister asked, “Last fall, the bishop assigned a young pastor to our parish. Soon afterwards, the staff realized that he had strong ideas about how to run the parish and was not willing to compromise. He lacks communication skills and doesn’t listen. We are frustrated. The staff wants to work with him. What should we do?”
Situations, like this, are difficult and not limited to pastors and staffs. We find them in schools, religious communities, and various work environments. Addressing them is never easy. It does no good to confront such a person. Every person has good qualities. More can be accomplished by affirming this pastor and complementing his good qualities. In some cases, even this doesn’t work, but patience and the desire to communicate may break the ice and change what at first seemed to be an intolerable situation.
Intransigence and unwillingness to communicate often manifest a person’s insecurity. This may change if those working with such a pastor are mature enough to recognize the good he does and tell him so. If the staff acts in this way, it may be easier to win his trust. Once trust is established, wider avenues of communication can open up. The key to success is not to challenge but to elicit trust.
When difficulties arise, try affirming the pastor. When we make people feel good about themselves, this may be the beginning of an improved relationship and a better working environment.
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