We have been harping of late about the danger of leaving your reputation unshielded on the internet. According to the Harvard Business Journal, the church is not the only one that suffers from this reputation hazard.
Companies are in danger of character assassination from disgruntled employees and unsatisfied customers. These unhappy individuals attack the reputation of stores from tiny attacks all over the internet. From blogs and message boards to Facebook and Twitter posts, these attacks add up and spread unhealthy, usually untrue, ideas about your business or brand.
The church is not exempt from unhappy people. When God convicts people, some rebel against His demands. Usually, overrun with guilt, they have an ax to grind against the church. Even though the church is not the conviction source, the “shoot the messenger” attitude is the easiest conclusion to reach.
Not all complaints are character or reputation assassination. Some are heartfelt complaints. However, both kinds need some kind of response usually. Although a wise course of action is sometimes to do nothing and let God sort it out, here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide a response is the correct action to take.
(From the Harvard Business Journal)
Avoid disproportionate shows of force.
Sometimes, even though a body is innocent, and overreaction makes them seem guilty, or at the very least, immature. Be careful when responding to a slur on your reputation to not seem too reactionary.
Remember, a soft answer will turn away fury, so a firm, kind response should be sufficient in most circumstances.
This flies in the face of normal advice. The normal advice is to hold your response for a time and see if you cool off. However, anger and other major emotions aside, if you are operating with a sound mind, time wasted is chances the ruse will influence someone that is ignorant of the facts.
If the situation calls fora swift response, don’t procrastinate.
Empower your team with the truth.
One of the things my grandfather used to do was to avoid secrecy in illogical disagreements. When a problem arose that had to do with his character or the reputation of the church, he would expose it from the pulpit regardless of who was there.
This may sound insane to some younger preachers who have been lucky enough to avoid conflict all your life but don’t forget the church is under attack at all times from the enemy of our soul. Therefore, the war is on, and sometimes it’s war.
If a reputation issue comes up, don’t be embarrassed to let people know what is going on, what is being said, and what the truth is. It’s not unthinkable to expose a lie that is meant to harm the church or minister’s reputation.
If the rumors are true… well you have a whole new set of problems.
Stockpile Credentials for use in future battles.
This doesn’t mean stockpiling zingers to insult any person who dares question your leadership. This means building up a stockpile of credentials. That doesn’t mean degrees either. Pieces of paper rarely count when emotions are involved.
The only credentials the church or the minister has is what they truly are. If your congregation is a bitter, rude group of people… if someone accuses you of being rude and bitter, your credentials are working against you.
If you build up a reputation of being kind and loving… when lies come that say the opposite, your credentials (past kindness and love) will speak for themselves. Usually, those who have been loved and received acts of kindness will come to bat for you and fight the battles for you.