Jan 21, 2016

5 Ways to Overcome the Debbie Downer in Your Ministry

A name is coming to mind right now as you read the title of this article. 

You know...the person who always approaches you with a negative word.  The person who throws cold water on the new idea.  The person who is quick to remind you that "we tried that before and it didn't work."  The person who opposes the vision God has placed in your heart for the ministry.

Don't worry...you're not alone.  Every ministry has a Debbie Downer.  It's just part of being a leader in ministry.  No matter what you do...there will be a Debbie Downer who wants to halt progress.

But you can't let the negativity of this person derail the growth and forward movement God wants to bring to your ministry.  And as the leader, you've got to overcome the roadblocks negative people drop in the pathway of progress.

Here's 5 ways to lead past negativity.

Bring the facts.  Be ready to show the stats that prove why this change must be made.  An example would be showing that your attendance has plateaued or is in decline.  Let the facts speak for themselves.  Hard evidence will counter negative opposition.

Meet the status quo head-on.  A lot of negativity comes from someone not wanting to move out of their comfort zone.  Change is hard for people and brings out insecurities.   Counter this with the consequences of letting the status quo continue.  Help them see why they must move the boat away from the dock and into deeper waters. 

Challenge sweeping statements.   You'll hear statements like, "If it ain't broke..." or "we're doing okay" or "things are fine the way they are."  Anticipate these type of statements and be ready to challenge them.

Show how everyone will win.  Negative people tend to dwell on the past.  They rarely look into the future. Your biggest tool for overcoming negativity is vision.  Help people see the end result and how they will benefit.  

Focus on the goal instead of winning the argument.  Your goal is not to "win the argument" with the negative person.  The goal is to bring them along with you on the journey.  The natural trajectory with negative people is to turn it into something personal.  Don't fall into this trap.  Make it about the vision and direction rather than about personal agendas.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are some other tips for overcoming Debbie Downer?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.  And please...don't list the names of your Debbie Downers.  They might read this.  No need adding fuel to the fire.  Just kidding.


Guard against middle-ground words. By that I mean words or phrases that allow a foot hold of negativity. 'Perhaps we could talk about that' - but you are at that very moment. Don't delay if you have the opportunity to say your encouraging words by extending the opportunity to them to really have a go by appointment!. 'If only' is wishful thinking, and sounds like you've already lost. 'Maybe' is accepting that they could be right, and 'I'll think about it' justifies what they are saying. 'Having considered', 'I've taken that into consideration' and 'I'd thought that myself, but now…' are all good moving on phrases, that express a 'positive' about having thought through what your vision is. But just saying these things, without that thought process to back up your statements, and they'll quite rightly see straight through you and will have further reason for negativity. Always pray it through.

Thanks for sharing Mitch. You are so right. Key words like you mentioned are so important in these kind of conversations.

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