Responding to Personal Attacks - Spurgeon

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by bamaterp, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. bamaterp

    Expand Collapse

    Spurgeon on Leadership: Responding to Personal Attacks

    By Larry J. Michael, Ph.D.
    Pastor, First Baptist Church, Clanton, Alabama

    (This article is an adaptation of writings from the upcoming book, Spurgeon on Leadership, Kregel Publications, due to be released in October).

    Every leader has experienced some type of personal attack. Whether it be an attack on one’s character, conduct, motives, decisions, abilities-it all can be very hurtful. A leader must rise above those attacks, in order to survive and remain faithful to his calling. But, what should be one’s immediate response when you feel you’ve been wrongfully attacked? The immediate temptation may be to defend yourself and react in an emotional manner.

    Following the example of strong leaders, however, shows us it may be wiser to take a higher road.

    Spurgeon's Devotion

    C. H. Spurgeon seldom responded to personal attacks. A good example of that is the time that his famous pastoral colleague, Joseph Parker, of the City Temple in London, wrote an open letter to Spurgeon that was published in the newspaper. The letter issued from a disagreement the two men had over Parker’s frequenting of the theatres in London.

    Spurgeon was not amused by such a worldly practice for a Christian leader, and ceased cooperating with Parker in evangelical endeavors. Parker felt rebuffed, and responded unwisely in a public manner. Spurgeon never addressed the letter in a public fashion. He just let it go… Sometimes we need to do that. Just let it go. A response may just make matters worse.

    Upholding the Calling

    While Spurgeon did not generally respond to personal attacks on him as a person, he did on occasion respond to personal attacks on the Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He believed his calling to be a sacred one, and if someone attacked his role/position as a minister, he did respond to those critics accordingly.

    Such was the case in the early part of his London ministry when the newspapers derided his immediate popularity, and castigated him with every vile description possible. Spurgeon took advantage of the situation and rallied his congregation to support him in the wake of the vilification he was receiving. It turned out to be a positive force for the gospel, as many people came to hear him out of curiosity, and in the process, came to faith in Christ.

    Interestingly enough, Spurgeon became so amused at the ridiculous nature of the criticisms in the press that he compiled a scrapbook of the news clippings entitled "Facts, Fiction, and Facetiae." He enjoyed showing them to visitors. At least he was able to see the humor in it.

    But, the criticisms did hurt, and he felt the sting at times. He wrote to his wife and lamented the false accusations. But, he charted safely through those stormy waters, and went on to become the first mega-church pastor in modern times.

    Completing the Task

    In a similar vein, we have the biblical example of Nehemiah, who returned to Jerusalem to lead the Israelites in the rebuilding of the city walls. There were enemies who opposed this noble effort, and did everything they could--from open mocking and ridicule, to false rumors and even entrapment, to stop Nehemiah from finishing the project. But, Nehemiah refused their attempts to distract him from his goal.

    On one particular occasion, after his critics repeatedly called for a meeting, Nehemiah replied: "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?"(Nehemiah 6:3). He knew they were scheming to harm him, and refused to be drawn away from his main task. He stayed with it, hung in there, rallied the Israelites, and the wall was miraculously completed in fifty-two days!

    Prevailing Wisdom

    A leader must demonstrate wisdom and exercise restraint in responding to personal attacks. But, if Spurgeon and Nehemiah are valid examples, it may be appropriate to respond to attacks upon one’s role/position in ministry at certain times. The crux of the matter is determining whether you’re simply out to protect/defend yourself, or the integrity of the ministry to which you have been called. With much prayer, and appropriate humility, divine guidance will be granted, that you may make the best decision for the sake of the gospel.

    Larry Michael is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Clanton, Ala. He serves as an adjunct professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham. This article is an adaptation of writings from the upcoming book, Spurgeon on Leadership, Kregel Publications, scheduled for release October 2003.

    More info is available from

    Copyright © 2003 Larry J. Michael. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

    [ September 11, 2003, 05:04 PM: Message edited by: bamaterp ]
  2. Jim1999

    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Aug 10, 2002
    Likes Received:
    If it is personal, forget it. If it is principle, die for it. A simple rule.


  3. GODzThunder

    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Jul 1, 2003
    Likes Received:
    oh I just love responding to personal attacks. Whenever someone decides to "chew me out," I kill them with love and open kindness and praise. No matter what they say I praise them for their great observation and thank them kindly for their opinion and offer of advice. Then I go into a series of praise on how much I love and adore them (because through Christ, I truly do no matter what).

    One of three things happen from this. They either do not know how to respond and just leave, they get so angry that they say something that discredits both their accusation or own personal testimony with the Church, OR they apologize for their previous actions and accept my apology. This is what I pray for so that our relationship can continue. This is what I get usually. The people who get angry I find usually wanted to fight no matter what.

Share This Page