Why pastors quit when criticized
We weren’t expecting it from that source. We had prepared ourselves to be raked over the coals from the bad guys, whoever they are. But in serving the Lord’s church, somehow or other we had convinced ourselves that these are the best people in the world—because some of them are!—and thus we could drop our guard.
The pastor who is a perfectionist is not going to do well in this ministry. Nothing he does will be perfect. No sermon is ever perfect, no worship service flawless, and no project accomplished without a mistake or two along the way. But the work is well worth doing. Lives are at stake. Eternities hang in the balance.
The pastor who quits when criticized went into the work for the wrong reason. He was building a shining career, making mom and dad proud of him, and looking forward to a comfortable living as a highly respected member of the community. He was not anticipating becoming the focus of the carping of every mean-spirited narrow-minded person who walked into church. But that’s what happened.
Deal with it, preacher. Learn to ignore as much as you can and to learn from what you should.
The definitive biblical story of criticism
David was fleeing Jerusalem as his murderous son Absalom bore down on the city with his army. It was a low point in his life. As the king and his entourage filled the Jericho road for a mile or more—headed toward and across the Jordan to be cared for by three wealthy landowning friends—a lowlife by the name of Shimei took this as his moment to hurl insults at David. The outline of the fascinating story looks like this:
2 Samuel 16 is “Shimei cursing.” He calls David a man of blood, a son of Belial (meaning worthless), tells him the Lord is repaying him for all the blood he has shed, and predicts that the Lord is delivering the kingdom to his son. See what David said.
2 Samuel 19 is “Shimei confessing.” The insurrection is put down, Absalom is dead and David and his people are crossing the Jordan headed home. Shimei meets them, and falls down, groveling. “I’m so sorry, king! I know I have sinned. Please don’t take to heart what I said. I’ve come down today to welcome you home!” (19:19-20) See what David said.
I Kings 2 is “Shimei’s comeuppance.” This is not one of David’s best moments. He’d forgiven Shimei—he said—but on his death bed he tells Solomon, “You’ll know how to deal with this man who cursed me.” (Readers can see “the rest of the story” in that chapter.)
Questions for the pastor who is being criticized unfairly and thinking of quitting
–Why should you be different? Have you read the stuff Moses endured? It’s a good and instructive study.
–Don’t you recognize this as sharing the sufferings of Jesus?
–Why don’t you believe Scripture? See the text at the top of this piece from I Peter 2. Then, go back and read Matthew 10, beginning at verse 16.
–Why do you take it personally?
–Are you aware of what others are suffering—I mean, really suffering—for Jesus’ sake throughout the world?
–Why not get some help from mentoring pastors? Ask how they dealt with criticism.
This article originally appeared here.