C.J. Mahaney begins a new blog series on The Pastor and Personal Criticism. Here's one section from his initial post:
There are many reasons why [pastors] can expect criticism:
- A pastor can expect criticism because of his own sin, which will inevitably be present in his heart and service, no matter how mature or well meaning he is (James 3:2).
- A pastor can expect criticism because there are limitations to his gifting, meaning there will always be weaknesses in his leadership.
- A pastor can expect criticism because we often preach below-average sermons. (After one sermon, a guy asked me, “So where do you work during the week?” My sermon apparently gave him the impression that preaching wasn’t my vocation.)
- A pastor can expect criticism because people can be proud and ungrateful.
- A pastor can expect criticism because, well, it is a sinful and fallen world.
But we as pastors often forget one more important reason:
- A pastor can expect criticism because it is part of God’s sanctification process—a tool that he uses to reveal idols and accelerate the pastor’s growth in humility.
God enlists many to serve us to this end.
Puritan Richard Baxter got this. In his book to pastors, The Reformed Pastor, he wrote,
Because there are many eyes upon you, therefore there will be many observers of your falls. If other men may sin without observation, so cannot you. And you should thankfully consider how great a mercy this is, that you have so many eyes to watch over you, and so many ready to tell you of your faults, and so have greater helps than others, at least for the restraining of your sin. Though they may do it with a malicious mind, yet you have the advantage by it.*