After 31 years of serving the same church, I can assure you that as a pastor, you will receive criticism. Understanding that this is part of reality will help see you through the grim times.
I know many pastors, and each one has undergone criticism. Criticism is inescapable in the life of a pastor. Few things challenge a pastor more than criticism.
There have been times when criticism has absolutely devastated me. It is especially difficult to receive criticism when given by someone you respect deeply or by someone who has completely misunderstood a situation.
Criticism can sideline or paralyze you, or it can help you be better in the future. I have personally experienced each of these situations.
Unquestionably, many times criticism is unfair; at other times, it is right on, with 100 percent accuracy! So, when you receive criticism as a pastor, what should you do? How should you respond?
1. Accept criticism.
When someone criticizes you as a pastor, accept it. Accept it with grace. I know this can be difficult at times, but do not let your body language demonstrate defensiveness or disapproval. Assure the person criticizing you that you will receive what they say, consider it, pray about it and determine the direction God wants you to go in the future.
2. Learn from criticism.
Criticism can be a great teacher. We should always be teachable, even through criticism. We are not perfect. We are not sinless. We make mistakes. We need to own them. We need to confess them as sin. If we have wronged someone, we need to make it right with them.
Those who are spiritually mature are able to learn from criticism. Pastors, always take the high road; you will never face a traffic jam there.
3. Outlive criticism.
If a person criticizes you unfairly, outlive it! Through the course of time, a life of integrity and honesty can overcome the criticism of others. Sooner or later, their criticism of you will fall on deaf ears.
Nothing is more powerful than a pastor who lives a consistent and Christ-centered life. Through time and the grace of God, you can outlive your greatest critic and the most unfair criticism. Therefore, outlive your criticism!
This article originally appeared here.