Dragons, of course, are fictional beasts – monstrous reptiles with lion’s claws, a serpent’s tail, bat wings, and scaly skin. They exist only in the imagination.

But there are dragons of a different sort, decidedly real. In most cases, thought not always, they do not intend to be sinister; in fact, they’re usually quite friendly. But their charm belies their power to destroy.

Within the church, they are often sincere, well-meaning saints, but they leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don’t consider themselves difficult people. Often they are pillars in the community – talented, strong personalities, deservingly respected – but for some reason, they undermine the ministry of the church. They are not naturally rebellious or pathological; they are loyal church members, convinced they’re serving God, but they wind up doing more harm than good.

They can drive pastors crazy… or out of the church.

Well-Intentioned Dragons; Ministering to Problem People in the Church, Marshall Shelly, p. 11