Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 3

We have spent the last two posts speaking of what takes place with criticism in the confines of a church.  The first one was what takes place in the soul of the pastor.  The second was what takes place in the soul of the critic.  This last post is devoted to what takes place in the church when critics began to do their work. 

As a leaping off point, look to Romans 16:17-20 from the Message (as a disclaimer, I don’t use the Message as a primary source):

Romans 16:17-20 MSG  One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth.  [18]  They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They're only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren't above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.  [19]  And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters--I couldn't be more proud of you!--I want you also to be smart, making sure every "good" thing is the real thing. Don't be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this,  [20]  and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 2

We are continuing this brief series on pastors and dealing with the fact that a pastor will have to deal with criticism on a fairly regular basis.  In the last post, I dealt with what criticism does to a pastor and the ways that he can let it work productively for him.  By no means am I insinuating that criticism does not have a mark that it leaves on a man who generally is working to do his best to help people to grow in their spiritual walk.  Over the years, I have had multiple conversations with pastors who were enduring some form of criticism for decisions they had made concerning the churches they pastored.  What I have found to be true is that the size of the church really does not matter.  It can be a small church or a mid-sized one, or a large church and all of these men of God found themselves having to contend with the critics they were attempting to lead.

Monday, May 04, 2015

On Pastoral Criticism--Part 1

There is one occupational hazard of a calling into the ministry, especially that of being a pastor, that seems to hurt more and grate at ministers more than any other—having to endure criticism.  It is one of the necessary pieces of territory that comes with holding a public place in ministry.  Even though it is painful to endure and it is understood that we have to deal with it, it has the capacity to create overwhelming waves of discouragement and free-falls into the abyss of despair.  No matter how faithful a man may be or how diligent he is in his work ethic, criticism is coming to a local church near you.  If you are district official, it is coming to district near you and there is nothing we can do to make us protected from it.

There will be waves of criticism that seem to come from every direction at times and then there will be periods when all seems to be at rest and you walk through life and ministry without a peep so to speak.  After having been involved in ministry for almost 30 years, I have come to realize that there is a fringe that every church has that is always buzzing about something.  Early in my ministry, I was very concerned about this fringe of the “mixed multitude” and what they were saying and doing.  However as the years have passed, I have come to believe what the Proverbs recommends, “Answer not a folly according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4).  The best course is to leave them alone and let your only form of protest be the excellence of your work.  Let your work, your life, and your ethics stand in the face of criticism.