Dealing with a Critic

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by sag38, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. sag38

    sag38
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    I'm not a perfect pastor. Never have been and never will be. However, I'm growing and my ministry has expanded. However, I had lunch today with a critic. Here's the laundry list of all that I'm doing wrong.

    1. All I do is beat people up in my sermons.
    2. I preach too loud.
    3. I don't love people.
    4. I'm not outgoing enough.
    5. I didn't speak to four people who passed by me following the AM service this
    past Sunday. I just ignored them.
    6. I wife isn't outgoing enough.
    7. I home school my son.
    8. My son plays fall baseball in another town.
    9. My son has discipline problems.
    10. I don't visit enough.
    11. Oh, and I'm a Republican.

    At the end of lunch this person asked this what I thought. Here's my response. "I've heard all that I've done wrong and need to improve upon. So tell me, what am I doing right." There was no answer other than I have a particular talent and that I have a heart for God." :BangHead: How do you guys deal with this kind of ugliness? I feel like I didn't have lunch with a church member I love but with the devil himself.
     
  2. exscentric

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    Did he pay for lunch? :laugh:

    Critics are critics and sometimes they have some truth and sometimes they don't. Pray about what was said, take the truth and leave the rest.

    I had a friend that was taken to task for not fertilizing the church lawn every year. He explained to the person that someone paid for it to be commercially done yearly so there was no need for him to do it :thumbs:

    Be sure you are walking with the Lord, be open to change if there seems to be a reason, and pray for the critic in spite of what they are like.

    If the critic starts making waves in the church body, then time for a board meeting to discuss it and some church discipline if needed. IMHO at least.
     
  3. tank1976

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    I agree with most of the above post.

    ALso think about what is written in my signature at the bottom.
     
  4. sag38

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    I went to my office and prayed. If anything said was of Christ then give me ears to listen and obey. If not then help me to drive on. But, I have to admit that it felt like I was kicked in the stomach.
     
  5. Steven2006

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    I am not a pastor, but I have found in years of dealing with people a few things. One thing if a person is that overtly critical of you, count on one thing, you aren't the only one, they are that way about many people and many things. Also they are most likely miserable and unhappy about their own life and are just projecting it towards others, in an attempt to make themselves feel better. I would recommend a few things. Don't take it personal and let it become personal. Try and empathize with this person, there is something or things going on with them to make them so angry. Pray for them, they need it.
     
  6. abcgrad94

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    As a pastor's wife, I would expect my dh to quickly defend any criticism said to him about me. If your critic has a problem with you scripturally, fine. Your wife and son should not be up for discussion. I hope you did not tolerate this, for your wife's sake, and your son's. The church doesn't pay your wife to "be outgoing" or your son to play ball where they see fit. It's none of their business and amounts to idle gossip.

    Sounds like you have the right heart attitude, sag. Don't let the complaining control freaks get to you. You must be doing something very right for the devil to try to attack you this way.

    One thing the complainers hate is PRAISE. I've found it really throws a complainer off guard when they're griping about something and you just start thanking them for (fill in the blank) or compliment them about something and ask how God has blessed them through his word this week. Drives 'em nuts!
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    You have been given great advice by all so far.

    I have found that there is usually some truth in what my critics say. I try to honestly evaluate their criticism. Usually what hurts is not the criticism itself but the manner in which it is presented. Sometimes it hurts because pastors want to be loved just like everyone else does.

    abcgrad is right. Take the wife and child off the table. Anyone can criticize me and my ministry to my face but when they start in on my wife or kids they get stopped hard. My wife and children answer to me and me alone- after God, that is.
     
  8. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Love him extravagantly.
    Take his comments seriously and seek to grow.
    Don't worry about the rest of it.
     
  9. rbell

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    Pastor Larry set me straight earlier.

    I mis-interpreted "turning the other cheek" as permission to moon this guy. PL helped me understand the proper exegesis.

    :D (Just kidding)

    No advice--many more wise guys, er, wise men, here than I. But, I will be praying for you. God must have something special planned if the devil is working overtime like that.
     
  10. Tom Bryant

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    Is this critic a leader in the congregation? If he says it to you, you can bet he has said it to others or now that he has spoken to you will begin spreading it to others.

    How long have you been in the church?

    You need to share what was said with trusted, supportive leadership within the church. Let them begin to defend you. Evangelist B. R. Lakin once told me, "Never defend yourself. Your friends don't need it and your enemies won't believe it." When I asked what he meant he told me to let my supporters defend me.

    Then I asked, "What if I don't have any supporters? He told me to update my resume. :tonofbricks:
     
  11. sag38

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    No, this person is not a leader but is a long time member. And, representative of a minority. I have a lot of support but it hurts to lose anyone and it takes a little while to move beyond a conversation with the devil.

    I am going to confront this person about my wife and son though. In the rest I will let the Lord be my defender.
     
  12. Tom Bryant

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    It shows your pastor's heart in not wanting to lose anyone. But by your actions you choose whom you will lose. If I had a choice about whom to lose, I'd rather it be the long time member who is hyper-critical and unlikely to ever support your ministry rather than the people who are supportive and will leave when the Sper Critic gets his way and drives you away.
     
  13. TomVols

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    All told, doesn't seem harsh enough for you to "confront." Answer a fool as their folly deserves....well, this fool doesn't deserve much of an answer. That said, I wasn't there to hear the criticism. Remember that a pastor must have the heart of a shepherd and the hide of a rhino.

    I believe it was Augustine who said "Lord, free me from the lust and pride of defending my own reputation."
     
  14. mark1

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    Being a Pastor is liking walking on eggs. Every member is different and must be dealt with accordingly. In 99.9%, you use a "soft" voice and assure the member and all is well. Sometimes, we must be "firm" and straight forward, for the benifit of the member is so critical. You will have to make that decision.
    I don't mind a member, telling me when I misspoke, or maybe got a scripture wrong, or that I need to talk with someone. But the things this person said to you, about your family and all. I think I would of explained a few things to him, about walking in my shoes for a while. God Bless,
     
  15. sag38

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    Tonight I talked with a deacon who is one of the most humble men that I know. Plus he is hurting from some personal matter yet continues to serve and give selfishly. I was flabbergasted for my deacon to tell me about a personal attack coming from the same one who attacked me. This person has attacked me, my family, and is now attacking my deacons. It's time to take action. Pray for me guys and girls.
     
  16. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Of course we don’t know all the details involved sag, but I am praying for you, that God will give you the wisdom to say and do the right things in this situation.

    The fact that this discussion took place initially at lunch I saw as a positive. At least he was talking to you and not just bashing you behind your back. Of course he may be doing that also, but having a conversation out in the open is a good thing.

    I would respond to him on every issue that he raised. I would make sure that he understood that you listened to and considered his complaints, that you valued his opinion and listened to what he had to say, even when you disagreed with him. If you want respect you have to first give respect.

    On issues where you disagree, like homeschooling your son or politics, I would explain why you disagree and drop it. On other more vague issues I would challenge him directly to work with you to a solution. Several items are tied together, your not outgoing enough, don’t love people, don’t visit enough, and ignored some people on Sunday. I would not try to defend yourself on these issues. Instead I would enlist his help. He thinks you need to visit more. No matter how many hours you are visiting or not visiting now, he has a perception that you need to visit more. Pin him down on this and make him help you. Ask him to go visiting with you. Ask him who he thinks you should be visiting and when. Is he talking about hospital visitation, church member visitation, or evangelistic visitation? When is he available to go with you? Who would he like to visit with you? This can tie into your love for the people and outgoing personality. Tell him you need his help to improve in these areas. Show him that you want to improve and want to work with him. I mean, you are not perfect are you? No matter what you are doing now as far as visitation you could get better at it? Perhaps this guy can help you? And I don’t know how many hours you are visiting or how many hours you can visit, but you can always make those hours more effective right?

    My feeling is that you don’t want to cast this guy out. What you want to do is win him over to your side. Don’t drive him to another church, make a supporter out of him. Give him something specific he can do with you. Make him vested in your success. If you can’t do this with any of the issues he brought up then invent one. What is he good at? What does he know about? Who does he know? Find his strengths, he has to be good at something. Make him feel like a valued member of your ministry team.

    I know that spending time with this guy is probably not high on your list of things you want to do, but you are his pastor and he obviously has some problems. I think the more time you could spend with him the better you can minister to him.
     
  17. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Sag, I know I already wrote a lot but I wanted to ad something else.

    The first three things on your list, you beat people up, preach to loud, and don’t love people. Let’s bundle those three things and look at them as they apply to your preaching. He had made a criticism; let’s get his help in fixing this.

    I had a situation when I pastured in SC of a member who did not like my preaching style. This man was a retired schoolteacher and had a degree in English. I made him help me improve my preaching and got us on the same side. I went to him on Friday or Saturday and reviewed my planned message. I explained examples I intended to use and points I intended to make. Then on Monday or Tuesday I would call him and ask how I had done. Did I communicate my points effectively? Was I able to condemn sin while still showing mercy and compassion on the sinner? Because he had taught English I asked him specifically about my vocabulary. Did I use any complex words that were not understood? Did I use any of those seminary, theological terms that the congregation did not understand? Was my grammar good? Was my speech clear and easy to understand? Did I mumble, did I say “um” too many times; did I connect with the congregation?

    I did not always agree with this guy, but I did listen to him. I did find some issues where we could agree and I could improve. He said I put my hands in my pockets while preaching and that was a distraction. I had him look for that and other distractions. He gave me some pretty detailed lists of what he found to be distractive mannerisms. It was pretty humbling, but I had to remind myself that I had asked for this. On some of them he was right and I did improve.

    In the end he became vested in my success. When I preached well he felt like he was a part of it. He became much more attentive to my messages and probably really heard them for the first time. He still considers himself as part of my ministry, and because he helped me grow, he really is.
     
  18. SaggyWoman

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    1. All I do is beat people up in my sermons.

    The funny think is if God is using you to speak to him, then maybe he should hear what God says instead of killing the messenger. If you are picking and choosing who you preach to, then you should consider changing.

    2. I preach too loud.

    Sometimes I can't hear and I appreciate the amplification. Is there a sound system present?

    3. I don't love people.

    Huh?

    4. I'm not outgoing enough.

    I know introverted and extroverted pastors.

    5. I didn't speak to four people who passed by me following the AM service this past Sunday. I just ignored them.

    Personally, I hate having to stop and shake the pastor's hand. Please! Ignore me!!

    6. I wife isn't outgoing enough.

    Refer to #4

    7. I home school my son.

    Good for you! And to be able to juggle this with pastoring... great!

    8. My son plays fall baseball in another town.

    Okay.

    9. My son has discipline problems.

    Does he jump as a cannonball in a full baptistry? Naked? Great. What's new?

    10. I don't visit enough.

    What are deacons for? Sunday school teachers?

    11. Oh, and I'm a Republican.

    Many are.
     

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