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7 Ways Pastors Can Develop Thicker Skin

4. Be a transparent leader. Criticism often goes to greater depths and frequency when there is a sense that the pastor is not being totally upfront on an issue or perspective. The transparent leader will be given the benefit of the doubt more times than not. That pastor will not eliminate criticisms, but those criticisms will be less frequent and intense.

5. Pray for your own attitude. Here’s that prayer thing again. Pastors are not perfect. They can have bad attitudes. They can see critics as the enemy. They can have a spirit of defensiveness and even retribution. Pastors must constantly be on guard with their own attitudes. They not only will deal with ministry more effectively and godly if they do, they will develop thicker skins for dealing with criticisms.

6. Focus on the majority. Almost all of the time, more people are with you than against you. The minority critics can seem so loud that we get the impression most everyone is against us. I recently heard from a pastor who decided to move to another church. When he announced his resignation to the congregation, they gave him a standing ovation of affirmation of his ministry. He said later that day that he probably would not have left had he known so many people supported him.

7. Look in the mirror. We are all wrong sometimes. Some of the criticisms are not without justification. The pastor will gain more respect and credibility with a response that admits wrong and apologizes.

Throughout biblical history and beyond, prophets, priests and pastors have dealt with criticisms, adverse circumstances and even persecution. The question is not whether tough times will come; they will. The question is how will you respond in those tough times.

Pastors who develop a thick skin are more likely to have joyful and long-term ministries. I have suggested seven ways to develop a thick skin. What would you change or add?  

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thomrainer@churchleaders.com'
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.