…many reasons why we 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.
Read and be helped by the rest of the post.
…a gift of grace in the words we say. In a blog post from earlier this month, C.J. Mahaney offers this wise counsel: “Buying the appropriate Christmas gift for someone requires that we know and study them. But this is no less true of our conversations.
So as you consider certain individuals, and seek to buy meaningful gifts for them, also consider how you can give them grace through your words.”
It’s not too late, you can impart this gift every day.
A good word from C.J. and James MacDonald. The intro:
It’s hard enough for a pastor to pour out his heart by preaching God’s Word, then submit to the critique of members standing in line to shake his hand. But what pastor doesn’t dread opening his e-mail account on Monday or Tuesday morning? Why do certain Christians feel the need to review the pastor’s Sunday morning “performance”? This discouraging weekly experience is enough to dull whatever excitement you have to head into church in the morning.
But in this era increasingly dominated by digital communication, pastors are hardly alone in struggling to discern how to use e-mail. When was the last time you sent a message you eventually or even immediately wished you could take back? How often do others misunderstand you? In this video, James MacDonald and C. J. Mahaney confess mistakes they’ve made when using e-mail as a means of correcting others. And they lay out some ground rules for how to employ digital communication for the glory of God and the good of Christ’s church.
Here’s a great post from Chad Mahaney on Video Games, Idols and Your Child’s Heart. The post highlights a question C.J. was asked at a Pastor’s College gathering about video games and a 12 year old. As is usually the case, C.J.’s answer reflects Biblical wisdom, a genuine understanding of the human heart with its weaknesses as well as the humility we should display toward our children. Read and be encouraged.
C.J. gives us a quote for men who serve in ministry and how men can support their local pastor. He writes:
Men who pastor small churches have my deepest respect. These guys are my heroes for the way they quietly and faithfully serve and persevere in difficult and challenging contexts, and do so with joy. That is why, during a panel discussion at Together for the Gospel, I was coming out of my chair as John MacArthur made the following remarks in response to a good question by Thabiti:
Thabiti Anyabwile: I am thinking about folks who are traveling with me. I am deeply encouraged with their being here. And I see other pastors traveling with some of the elders and members in the church. I assume they are likewise encouraged. Any words that you would offer to folks here who maybe aren’t in pastoral ministry? Maybe they are here to support their pastor in the kind of faithfulness you are talking about. Any exhortations to them, practical ways that they can hold the pastor’s arms up in this kind of faithfulness and trusting in God?
John MacArthur: What I cherish the most is a true and loving loyalty. This disloyalty, betrayal, undermining, just cuts the heart out of your pastor. When I talk about loving loyalty, I mean when there is an issue that needs to be addressed you go eyeball-to-eyeball, man-to-man, and you confront it. And I love that. I love when guys come to me and say, “John, I think this is a problem. I think you are overlooking this. I think this is a misstep on your part.” Those are the men I cherish. Those are the men I pull to my heart.
But what is just terribly debilitating is to feign that kind of affection to the man and then undermine that among the people. That is the most difficult thing. It is the betrayal that that brings. I could endure any problem in a church. I am challenged to solve any problem. But it is so hard when the men that you trust betray you behind your back. Because he is God’s man in your midst, you give him your love and you give him your loyalty. Be honest with him, face to face, man to man, open hearted. But understand the burden that he bears, and you need to be his true friend. You really do.
It is especially important for pastors who serve alone. At a different point in the discussion, MacArthur addressed the struggles single-staff pastors face:
I find my joy in the church in the men I work with, in their growth and their partnership and their love and their loyalty and their support of me. For me, I think that would be the hardest thing about being a pastor at a small church, being there alone and trying to carry that burden by yourself. That is why some of you are here, because you need this. You don’t even so much need what we say—you need each other. You need to feel like you are a part of something way beyond your own thing, and we embrace you fully.
I have often said the Lord must prefer small churches because he made so many of them. And you guys that are alone in those churches, you are the real soldiers, you are the real warriors. We thank God for you.
Productivity. Seems like an important topic these days, especially for those of us who live life eying a great day when we will stand before our Creator and give an account for the deeds done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10). We don’t want to waste our time. We want to use it wisely to the glory of God. C.J. Mahaney recently wrote a 17 part series at his blog on Biblical Productivity. It has now been brought together into one PDF here. Enjoy and be challenged!