If you serve in a church, criticism comes with the territory. I doubt that any pastor or leader likes it. But, we must deal with it in a God-honoring way. One way to do that is to understand why people criticize us. I’ve listed below what I believe are seven reasons why church people criticize pastors with a suggested response to each.
Why church people criticize pastors
1. They lack spiritual maturity.
Some people criticize pastors because they think it’s part of a Christian’s job description. After all, “Pastors need to avoid pride and some good healthy criticism can keep ’em humble.”
• Response: Don’t be surprised that you get criticized. Make sure that your church has an intentional spiritual formation strategy to help people think and act more biblically.
2. They feel they are losing the church they once knew.
As we get older, we must deal with the inevitable results of aging, slowing cognitive function, and reduced flexibility and resilience. Seniors in your church may feel that changes you are bringing are taking away the church they grew up in. Guess what? Unless we stay resilient as we age, when we get older we’ll probably feel the same way.
• Response: Give a gracious listening ear to seniors and seek to empathize with them by stepping into their shoes. Try to see their concerns from their perspective.
3. They don’t feel they have a voice.
Some church people can feel that their opinions don’t matter and so criticize pastors to get their voice heard.
• Response: Provide opportunities that give people a way to give input. I’ve heard Patrick Lencioni, leadership author and guru, often say that people will support you if they feel that they’ve been truly heard.