Antagonism is a reality. It leaves in its wake broken lives and people who are hurt, discouraged and apathetic. Antagonism is a real phenomenon that seems to be a growing reality in our society.
A leader asked how to respond to an antagonist in his church. My response was that the destructive behavior could not be ignored or tolerated. The antagonist in his church had run off members, disheartened the pastor, and threatened the effectiveness of the church in the community. For this leader, it was time for courageous action.
The reason an antagonist continues to demonstrate destructive behavior is that they have never been held accountable for their hurtful behavior. One of my hypotheses is that antagonists “have gotten away” with their bad behavior as a child, teens, and adults because no one called, corrected, or stopped him/her. Further, they will continue in their antagonist behavior until someone courageously stands against them. A powerful quote that a friend of mine has used states, “unchallenged behavior goes unchanged.”
Due to our desire, as Christians, to act in a loving manner, we tend to tolerate bad behavior. Perhaps the best demonstration of love is discipline properly dispensed.
Question: How do you deal with antagonists? How did Jesus respond to the antagonist?
How does a leader know that they are dealing with an antagonist? Distinguishing those who are true antagonists from those who are not is essential. Otherwise, there is a serious risk of misjudging the actual level of conflict confronting you. A leader must be careful not to confuse valid criticism with antagonism.
In the book Antagonist In the Church, Kenneth Haugk provides guiding questions to help us to identify the antagonist:
- Is his or her behavior disruptive?
- Is the attack irrational?
- Does the person go out of the way to initiate trouble
- Are the person’s demands insatiable?
- Are the concerns upon which he or she bases the attack minimal or fabricated?
- Does the person avoid causes that involve personal risk, suffering, or sacrifice?
- Does the person’s motivation appear selfish?
As a leader, how do you identify antagonists?