By Patti Johnson

I learned a very interesting perspective about circumstances and people’s intentions while working for a large retail company. I learned that sometimes unfortunate things happen by the hands of people, but they are not always intentional.

While taking part in training by some of the company merchandise buyers, I learned that while we in the stores are waiting with anticipation for new products, restocking of popular products or long-awaited arrivals of products that were pulled from shelves for various reasons, the buyers are also anticipating their arrival. But they are waiting for confirmations that they have arrived in port from shipping vessels, have been approved to enter the country through customs, confirmation that the new product has left the manufacturing plant, that flaws in quality control have been corrected.

While we wait in the stores, anxious to get the merchandise on the shelves and ultimately into the hands of customers, the buyers are just anticipating sight of the merchandise on loading docks and completed purchase orders to arrive.

Sometimes because of unfortunate circumstances beyond anyone’s control but seemingly connected to someone’s direct handling, the products do not make it to their destination.  Merchandise traveling across the seas on a shipping vessel may have the container housing the merchandise slide off the vessel into the sea. Perhaps a natural fiber product does not make it through customs for various health reasons. Maybe the manufacturing plant that was producing the new product suffered a flood of the premises or there was a catastrophic failure of machines. Perhaps a quality issue that was promised to be fixed still does not meet standards.

All these things have happened in my years of retail and with it comes disappointment and a desire to blame someone for the misfortune. But the reality is that none of these instances were intentional; they just felt that way. Because quite frankly it affected us personally as we were the ones to deliver the news to waiting customers.

One buyer put it this way: ”No one gets up in the morning with the intentions of pushing a shipping container into the sea, it just happens sometimes.” It was well intentioned in all these circumstances that the merchandise would arrive. But things happen.

So, what do we do when well intentioned people hurt our feelings? Or make us mad? Or afraid? Or confused and doubtful?

This is the subject of the book “Well Intentioned Dragons – Ministering to Problem People in the Church” by Marshall Shelley.

The book takes us into the very familiar territory of having difficult people engage with us in most unsatisfactory ways. The author identifies patterns and behaviors and trademark telltale signs when trouble is coming.

The author also balances these facts out with insights on the intentions of most people that cause us trouble in the church. He surprises us with challenging the reader to think beyond the results and give grace and understanding to those that are difficult to deal with because of their actions towards us.

He gives us practical steps to take to recognize certain people and the way they carry out their wishes and wants. He gives us reason to pause and look at them as people and not just the sum of their actions. He challenges the reader to get ahead of the wave of their actions and be prepared to receive their intentions wrapped up in various inappropriate words and deeds.

This book helped me personally to not attack back when attacked, to measure the level of my hurt from some prickly comments, to address the potential problem before it rears its ugly head through the words and actions of a certain person.

The book is full of stories, some true and some imagined. The author, like the buyers at the retail company explains it this way: “Most people don’t get up in the morning to see how best they can annoy you, they just do, it happens.” They may not intend to drive you mad or crazy or to tears, their intentions may be well placed but they carry it out like dragons! We are called to love, even the sometime dragons!

I pray you will get this book and allow it to minister to you as it has to me.

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