Because God loves the unlovable, the broken, the unattractive, even his enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10), he calls us to do the same. This is a great challenge to facilitators because sometimes there are people in our groups that we just don't like. They rub us the wrong way. We may not admit it, but truthfully, we all bring our prejudices to the group. If we are not careful, the group will become dysfunctional when members pick up on our attitude.
Effect of Attitude
Most facilitators never consciously show their dislike for someone; however, because communication is subtle and non-verbal, it is possible to show disrespect without realizing it. Here are some of the ways facilitators may unintentionally (or intentionally) communicate disrespect for someone:
- Talking down to a person
- Not taking time to listen
- Minimizing the problems of a group member
- Not allowing people to think for themselves
- Preferring certain members above others
- Ignoring a participant
- Telling people what they should do
- Using abusive language
- Being judgmental
- Acting superior to group members
- Deriding or making fun of participants to others
Incentive to Change
Facilitators can overcome prejudice and avoid unconsciously expressing disrespect by remembering that all people are precious to God. He values everyone equally (Gal. 2:6), even those who smell bad, behave sinfully, or hold values and opinions completely different from ours. As creatures made in the image of God and equally loved by God, we owe each other respect. In God's eyes, one person is no better than another (Romans 3:23). We owe the debt of love, and this leaves us no excuse to treat anyone with disrespect.
Example to Follow
Jesus modeled for us the godly approach to broken people when he took upon himself the role of the servant (Phil. 2:3-8). He voluntarily came and lived among us while we were his enemies and showed us his love. When he related to people who were broken, bound, and fighting against themselves, he left their souls intact and respected their personal dignity (John 8:1-10). Are we not obligated to follow his example?
Advice to Follow
Wise facilitators follow the advice Paul gave Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:24-26-to treat everyone with kindness.
"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."Following this advice will help preserve the self-respect of the people we are trying to help, while at the same time allowing us to gently point out the areas where people are blind to the truth of their own sin. May God grant us grace to love all participants as he does and to deal wisely and compassionately with those he sends to our groups.
Copyright © 2008 by Turning Point Ministries