“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson link
“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale link
A number of years ago, I got really miffed when the wife of an elder at a former church got involved in a multi level marketing program (not Amway this time.) I received complaints from some of the women in my Bible study who were getting weary of her pushing her *fabulous,* high end, discounted merchandise and trying to get them involved.
Since it involved a number of women, I decided to go see one of the pastors. In a rather huffy manner, I told him about the problem. This pastor was a wise and kind sort of pastor. He looked at me and asked me why I couldn't see beyond the concrete to understand what might be going on in this woman's life. He recounted how she had to step down from the music ministry since her voice was weakening. Her kids had left the home and she had been heavily involved in their activities, etc. Her husband worked many hours and she was alone a lot. Maybe she was looking for something that she could say she personally accomplished.
He told me that, although the incessant calling for her MLM was inappropriate, I also needed to be more sensitive to understanding people beyond the obvious. I felt like a light went on in my brain. When people annoy us, take up too much of our time, etc., how often do we try to understand them beyond the superficial? Think about this as you read the following by Thom Rainer.
Pastors get distracted by too much criticism and it must be stopped.
In 2011, Thom Rainer wrote The Great Distraction to the Great Commission. His basic thesis is that criticism of God glorifying pastors is on the rise and this must be stopped! Period! No introspection, no caveats, no questioning of the paradigm, nada!
Criticisms have always been a part of a pastor’s life, but it seems that the rate and the intensity of the criticisms have both increased.
An example of criticism with no introspection.
Rainer observed this following example while visiting a pastor friend. A woman emailed a pastor 5 minutes after a service was over and said she didn't like the music. There is no deeper reason given for this email. Nothing is mentioned about the background of this woman that might give depth to the critique. For example:
- Could she have just lost her husband and was sad, utilizing the email to express her pain?
- Could she have transferred from a church that only had organ music and needed a friend within the church to help her understand the ethos of this church?
- Could she have gotten blasted out by speakers set way too loud for safe hearing?
Instead, it became all about this poor, sad pastor who had to deal with nobodies who had the unmitigated gall to critique something.
She sent it within five minutes after the service,” he said softly.
“We just have to press on and love the critics,” he spoke with resignation. “But it sure does get old.”
Yes, dealing with people gets old but, bless your heart, that is your ministry as a pastor.
Pastors, it is important you get this straight. You job as a pastor does not mean you will be living on the edge of adventure each day. No one does.
You will not be *transforming the entire world with the audacious message of the gospel" as I heard one pastor say recently. Jesus had to deal with the day to day issues of his disciples. There was squabbling, jockeying for position, lousy theology and self- centeredness. Why should you be any different?
The more I contemplate Jesus,the more I realize that He complained very little about the average people. However, he got really made at the religious leaders who thought their job was far more important than the leper who was ostracized from society.
This pastor was doing everything right, right?
He was leading the church to greater depths of discipleship, and many in the community were becoming believers in Christ. The worship services were incredible; everything from the prayers to the preaching to the music was God-centered and God-glorifying
Wow- everything was just perfect…or was it? I see nothing stated about the love that this pastor has for the people attending his church. There is nothing mentioned about the warm conversations between the pastors and the folks after the message. In fact, if I am to believe this post, that the pastor and Rainer high tailed it back to the pastor's office within 5 minutes of the ending of the service to critique those who critiqued him! I had a good laugh about this.
Rainer said criticism has been a distraction to his ministry
Because the church I served was small, the number of critics was relatively small. Their barbs still hurt though, and their criticisms were a distraction to my ministry.
So, Rainer was distracted by criticism…Well, it is a good thing that Jesus and the disciples who followed Him were not distracted by criticism or we would not have had the church. Jesus was killed by his critics. All of His disciples were martyred by their critics except for John who got to spend life in a prison on Patmos. Somehow, in the midst of this, their ministry flourished. Did Rainer have such criticism in his ministry?
According to Rainer, it is Satan distracting leaders from the Great Commission.
( TWW maxim: Whenever Jezebel, Hitler or Satan is brought into the discussion, we have left the realm of thoughtful commentary.)
Criticism is a huge distraction. Though I’m reticent to speak for Satan, I have to believe that one of his primary weapons against the church is distracting leaders from the Great Commission.
Now, call me naive, but I thought that the Great Commission was to be fulfilled by all of the members of the church universal, not just the leaders.
Oh yeah, why does Satan only go after the church members to distract the pastor with criticism? I think we are getting into some squirrely theology here. Give me verses, Thom, verses…
You cannot make disciples when you have to deal with critics.
Who has time to make disciples when we have to listen to Betty or Bob complain and criticize for 45 minutes? Pastors lose valuable time and, inevitably, have little energy to do anything else after bearing the barbs of the latest critic.
Notice that he invents a silly *all or none* situation. You must listen to Betty for 45 minutes-not 15 minutes. Also, I guess he cannot bring in his *disciple* to learn how to deal with Betty since the pastor is discipling people to do more important stuff than caring for the people in his congregation.
By the way, what is going on with Betty? Does she just want to criticize since it give her the jollies or is Betty asking to be heard. After all, Betty may be tithing her limited income to the church and wants to understand what her money is actually being used for. Maybe Betty actually has something to say but since she is a woman, all she is allowed to do is go to the women's Bible study which is run by the pastor's wife who is insufferable. Maybe Betty is lonely.
Pastors are getting beat up daily for insignificant matters and the internet is to blame! Dang it.
It sure is annoying when those bloggers point out insignificant issues like child sex abuse. Even worse, that Internet thing allow women to critique posts written by men.
I know that pastors are not above criticism. And sometimes the critic can be well-intentioned. But things are way out of balance now. Pastors are getting beat up daily for some of the most insignificant matters. Many are unable to lead because they fear the latest round of attacks. And it seems like the advent of Internet, text messaging, and the social media has accelerated the attacks.
This criticism is reaching a crisis!
"Batten down the hatches, boys, they're coming for us!" If it was a crisis in 2011, can you imagine what it is at the end of 2016? Armageddon!!!!
The problem is serious. Indeed, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it is a crisis. It’s time to respond.
I am convinced that we have a major crisis in our churches
This doomsday scenario is being caused by the unregenerate.
This is Calvinista speak for "not saved." So, the little old lady who doesn't like the music is going to hell. In the meantime, the very busy, totally regenerate pastor, who hides out in his office after the sermon, is doing God-glorifying™ work. It's really quite simple in Calvinistaville.
I can’t judge the heart, but I do find it hard to believe that some of the most vitriolic criticisms come from the heart of Christians. I am convinced more than ever that we have let millions of unregenerate members into our churches. We are now suffering the consequences of such low standards of church membership.
This post is an example of a critique by a biased and arbitrary individual who only sees God glorifying pastors(since he was one) who overlooks the sins of the church and the leaders so long it is one of his preferred churches or leaders.
I believe that Thom Rainer totally overlooked the real problem.
The pastor is a much of a sinner as the person who he is critiquing. Love for the people in the church means listening to them, even when it is boring. It means spending time with Betty when he would rather be spending time fulfilling The Great Commission. But, maybe it isn't an either or proposition. Maybe loving Betty and understanding her is part and parcel of the Great Commission. Wouldn't it be interesting if the Lord sent Betty to that pastor to teach him about the gospel? Maybe he should take Betty out to lunch and try to understand her. But, there are so many conferences to attend and books to write…