What do we mean by high maintenance? These are folks who consistently whine and complain saying "my needs are not being met!" In the business world these are the people who genuinely believe that those in authority are taking advantage of them, are never satisfied with their jobs, and believe their gifts are not appreciated in the workplace. High maintenance people are not self starters and drain the energy from any organization's leaders. In declining local churches, as well as declining businesses, there are disproportionate numbers of high maintenance people in leadership positions rather than in support positions. High maintenance people may be very smart but they are rarely self aware. HMP overestimate their gifts and abilities. High maintenance people believe they are the sun and all the rest of us are planets which revolve around them. When high maintenance people teach a class they want someone else to recruit folks to attend the class. If no one shows up for the class then these high maintenance folks begin shaming and blaming, "If you cared about my class pastor, you would have supported it by attending yourself and bringing others."
The church, and any organization, needs to muster up the courage to speak the truth in love. It is time to boundry the behaviors of high maintenance people. It is time to recognize that the church is the one organization that does not exist for the benefit of its members. It is time to recognize that the church is not a community of special priviledge but a community of special purpose. It is time to "just say no" to those in our congregations whose demands are draining our energy and driving others away. Saying "no" to high maintenance people identifies us as partners for them in a quest for emotional maturity (whether they seek this hoped for maturity or not). No longer can we excuse the behavior of HMP by saying "That's just the way she has always been, we just have to ignore her and go on." It is time for us to grow a spine.