Can I just state here and now that sometimes ministry is tough. Pastors are the lightning rods for criticism in the church.
“The church ought to….”
“Why doesn’t the pastor do….”
“Why did the pastor do…….”
“In my last church we did things this way……..”
“In my last church we never did things this way………”
Most problems people have with the pastor or the way the business of the church is conducted is because of differences of opinion. Did you catch that? Differences of opinion. Not sin. Not ethical or moral issues. Just different thoughts and opinions.
Gather 25 people together for a meeting and you’ll get 25 different opinions. When someone dismisses, overlooks, or counters our opinion on an issue we tend to get our feelings hurt. Come on, you know it’s true!
You have two choices in that instance: Get hurt or get over it.
I wish I could say that most people get over it. It has been my experience that they don’t. Instead they talk about it. A. Lot. They will find someone who will listen to them and that person may, themselves, pick up the gauntlet of offense and take that to another person. Depending on the situation a mini maelstrom can quickly develop.
The Bible is very clear about problem solving when differences come up between believers. Go first to that person and speak to them before involving others (Matt. 5:23, Matt. 18:15).
So what are you to do if you hear rumblings against your pastor or other leaders in the church?
Ask if they have spoken to the pastor (or other ministry leader involved) about the issue. If they haven’t, then gently remind them of Matthew 5 and 18. Most people don’t want to address/confront the pastor; they just want to complain to a listening audience.
Sometimes people need to be reminded that the pastor is just another human being who makes mistakes. Sometimes people need to be reminded that there are usually many ways to look at a particular situation and that their opinion is just one of those ways. Sometimes people need to be lovingly reminded that they are participating in gossip or hearsay. That may smart a bit, but it will be to their benefit.
Bottom line: Defend your pastor against criticism. Don’t participate in idle chit chat or gossip. Encourage others to offer grace and mercy. Point them to Jesus. Challenge them to pray with an open heart and open mind. Your pastor(s) will be ever so grateful!