After 31 years of serving the same church, I can assure you that every pastor will be the subject of criticism.
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.
But pastors have a decision to make: criticism can sideline and paralyze them, or it can help them 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 a pastor receives criticism, what should he do? How should he respond?
1. Accept criticism.
The first thing a pastor should do when criticism comes is accept it with grace. I know this can be difficult at times, but pastors cannot let their body language demonstrate defensiveness or disapproval. A pastor should assure the person criticizing him that he will receive what they say, consider it, pray about it, and determine the direction God wants him to go in the future.
2. Learn from criticism.
Criticism can be a great teacher. Pastors should always be teachable, even through criticism. We are not perfect. We are not sinless. We make mistakes. We need to own them, and 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 will fall on deaf ears — truth will always have the last say.
Nothing is more powerful than a pastor who lives a consistent and Christ-centered life. Through time and the grace of God, pastors can outlive their greatest critic and the most unfair criticism. Therefore, outlive your criticism!