You know the person in your church I’m talking about. He’s always negative (and, of course, the person could be female, but I’ll use the male pronoun for this post). He sees nothing positive about anything, and you just don’t want to be around him. Sometimes, though, it’s wise to think about reasons this church member might be negative – so you can pray more intentionally for him.
- He’s not a genuine believer. He probably thinks he is, but he may not be. He acts lost because he is lost.
- He grew up with nothing but negative. Occasionally, I’ve met the parent of one of my negative church members – and it all began to make sense. It’s hard to change patterns when that’s all you know.
- He’s dealing with ongoing sin. In the secret areas of his life, he’s daily losing a battle to sin—and he’s too prideful to tell anyone. His guilt comes out as negativity.
- His home life is a mess. Maybe he’s the primary cause, but either way, his struggles at home color everything else.
- He’s never really been discipled. He might have been in church every weekend for decades, but no one’s ever pushed past his negative to walk beside him as a Christian brother. He’s really still a baby believer—so he acts like an infant.
- He’s fighting against a call of God. It’s amazing how far people will go in their rebellion when they don’t want to surrender to God – and their rebellion affects everything else.
- He thinks “playing the devil’s advocate” is important. That is, he genuinely believes that his negative viewpoint is a way to help the church see (and thus avoid) potential problems in the long run.
- He has never been forced to face his attitude. Sure, people talk about him all the time—but no one has cared enough to confront him in a loving way. If they have confronted him, it’s been with the same negative attitude he has; so, the pattern continues.
- He’s never gotten over past church hurt. The wounds of a church can run deep, and the scars can be long-lasting. When you’re still angry (and even afraid of it happening again), it’s tough to see positives.
- His age is having an effect. I’ve seen some of the nicest people I know turn into some of the meanest people I know as age begins to affect their thinking.
Take time now to pray for a negative person.
What other reasons would you add to this list?
I have a negative person who I think is motivated by seeing her preferred church disappear. She will tell me that changes that have been made have failed to bring in new and younger people, even though we get new people on a regular basis and none of them are seniors.
Interesting. Thanks, Stephen.
Maybe a sense of isolation can contribute to the negative attitudes. Perhaps they know they should be in church so they come, but they still feel alone and have no close friends. They do not get to experience Christian fellowship. This can feed a perception of not being liked or loved and create this cycle in the persons life that becomes a habit.
Thanks for the good thought.
These are definitely very real causes of negativity, but depression is an often overlooked cause. I don’t think the Church on the whole is great at caring for the mentally ill or recognizing the signs.
True. Thanks, Gail.
As a therapist, I have worked with many people like this. As a rule, they can be helped with counseling and healing prayers. For the root of bitterness. But few ministers have the skills and self confidence to dig in an love them into wholeness.
Thanks for this imporant word.
Putting people on a pedestal as idols, particularly one’s leaders, ironically can lead to negativity. The very ones that used to be perfect in our imaginations become the focus of our criticism and even bitterness. It’s as though God tears away our idolatry, but Satan is right behind to tear up all the good that rightly remains– if they can’t be gods, they must be devils– he is, after all, the accuser of the brethren. The way out (in my experience) is to humbly ask the Lord to change my heart that I’d think rightly of my brethren, neither erring on the right nor the left. It’s saying to God, “My trust is in You and not in any other.”