One of the questions that I get asked a lot from other pastors or leaders is this: 'WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS PERSON WHO HAS BECOME UNREASONABLE? They complain, gossip, and are never happy. And when I try to reason with them, they are absolutely unwilling to listen or even try to build some type of common ground.'
The Proverbs defines such a person as a 'mocker'. The word in Hebrew means (one who scoffs or scorns advice; a person who not only resents correction - they disdain it). So what do we do with people like this?
#1 - DON'T TRY TO CORRECT THEM - its a waste of time and energy. But even beyond that, you will only invite their insults. It's better to smile and listen than it is to try to correct someone who has proven themselves to be unreasonable.
"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse." Prov 9:7
#2 - DON'T FORGET GOD - its important to remember that God is the ultimate source of reward. Even if it feels that for a time, the 'mocker' is getting the upper hand on you. It is better to allow them a temporary sense of victory and maintain an attitude of humility before the Lord.
"He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble." Prov 3:34
#3 - DON'T BECOME LIKE THEM - when someone is in your face with disdain in their voice, it is easy to become reactive and mirror their demeanor right back at them.
'Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.' Prov 26:4
'Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.' Prov 26:5
#4 - DON'T TRY TO WIN THE ARGUMENT - DO TRY TO WIN OTHERS - the verses above in Proverbs 26 seem almost contradictory. Verse four says, 'don't answer them.' Verse five says, 'do answer them.' What do we learn from this? When you are dealing with a fool there is no way to win.
But it is critical that what you say and do - you do for the benefit of those who are observing you. So you answer, not trying to win the argument with the 'fool'. But you answer and maintain an attitude that will help you win the hearts and minds of those who are observing.
#5 - DON'T TRY TO KEEP THEM AROUND OR KEEP THEM HAPPY - the only way relief arrives is when the mocker leaves. I know this sounds harsh. But it is the truth. Some churches need to grow first through subtraction. When the right people leave, the atmosphere can change.
'Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.' Prov 22:10
#6 - DON'T DEAL SOFTLY WITH A MOCKER - BE KIND, BUT BE VERY FIRM - softness gives room for them to work. But if you are mean or harsh, you give them something legitimate to criticize you for. So you must stand your ground. Speak little. Listen much. But don't yield. Apply the appropriate decision or discipline.
'When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.' Prov 22:11
#7 - DON'T LET A MOCKER GET INTO YOUR SPIRIT OR UNDER YOUR SKIN - its not worth it. Don't let them affect your spirit. Forgive. Release it to God. Trust Him with it. Don't stay up late thinking of a response to their comments. Don't waste the energy. Deal with this with wisdom. Be surrendered to God, yet be shrewd.
Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. Prov 29:8
I pray that you don't ever have to deal with someone like this in your life or leadership. But if you do, just remember that GOD IS BIG ENOUGH FOR EVEN THIS.