Dealing with favouritism in the church
Knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
- Ephesians 6: 8-9
She does everything to be in the leader's good books. She attends all the Women's Missionary meetings, takes part in the activities all she wants is for the leader to show her the same kind of attention she gives to a particular sister who doesn't do half the things she does.
This is a real-life situation and a genuine complaint from one sister who attends a particular church. She is disillusioned and ready to walk away as she feels left out of the 'favourite circle'.
However, Christians shouldn't have to work so had to be accepted by anyone in church or to be counted as one of their 'favourites'. The church is a place of acceptance and welcoming warmth - or so it should be.
Family & Religion reached out to Pastor Zebulah Aiken of the Miracle Tabernacle Church of God of Prophecy for insight on the issue.
Aiken said favouritism - giving preferential treatment to a particular person or group of people over other people in the same group - should not be an acceptable behaviour in church.
Acknowledging that, sadly, some members and even leaders chose to exhibit this kind of behaviour, she said it is something that must be addressed.
"If people are hurting and need to feel accepted, where can they go to find that kind of love if not the church?" she said.
"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism ... . Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" said Aiken, quoting from James 2 as she said there are a few scriptures in the bible that address this scenario.
Aiken said the Bible is quite clear about this kind of behaviour and Christians would do well to adhere to it.
"Christians are followers of Christ and if we truly are doing that, then we have to do so in every way. We cannot embrace the ways of the world and form cliques. We have to let everyone feel welcome," she said.
Citing the negative implications from that kind of behaviour, Aiken said it can lead to injustice in the church.
APPLE OF THE EYE
No fault will be found of the person who is the apple of the eye and excuses made for them when they are at fault.
Other negatives she said that can arise from showing partiality is the person that is least liked being criticised a lot or getting blamed for everything, even when they are not guilty. The other will receive underserved praise and this could give rise to jealousy or resentment rearing its ugly head in the church.
Recalling the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, she said Israel, Joseph's father made it clear who was his favourite and that led to his brother's hating him and selling him as a slave into Egypt.
The church said Aiken should seek every chance to "shun the very appearance of evil" and that includes not allowing partiality to any of the brethren to creep in.
Aiken said there will be members who makes it easy for you to have a natural inclination towards them based on their personality and their charisma ... but that doesn't mean the timid or more reserved persons should be ignored.
Stating that the church is already battling with all kinds of issues, she said, being partial to fellow brethren should not be one of them.
For her, unlike some issues which are problematic to deal with, partial members is something that leaders should deal with the minute the issue crops up and not turn a blind eye.
"Everyone needs someone they can relate to, that they can talk about things affecting them and if we close the door to that avenue with the negative message we send by not allowing them to feel needed or wanted as a part of the fellowship, then it's wrong," she said.
Aiken said it is her hope that Christians follow the advice given in Proverbs 28:21 "To show partiality is not good".