5 Godly Ways to Respond to a Hurtful Email From a Church Member

The internet allows cowardly critics to hide behind a keyboard and cut people to the core through blogs, social media and email. (Pexels)

"You have no business being the pastor of our church. All you are interested in is getting your own way and changing all the good things we have going. People are saying you should be fired. I agree with them."

Yes, it's a real email.

Yes, it's from a church member to a pastor.

The internet has certainly brought us incredible ways to do commerce, to get information and to communicate.

But it has an ugly and evil side as well.

It allows cowardly critics to hide behind a keyboard and cut people to the core through blogs, social media and email.

So how do we respond when we get a hurtful email? The pastor who received that cruel, cowardly and vitriolic email asked me that question. Here's how I responded:

  1. Pray about it. Do not respond in quick-tempered, fleshly anger. Give it to God. Let Him guide you. Pray for wisdom, and pray for those who attack you.
  2. Wait. Some leaders work on the 24-hour rule. They will not respond to a hateful email immediately. Some wait longer. They are waiting on God. They are waiting to have a more tempered perspective. And they are waiting to get input from others.
  3. Get godly counsel. I was recently accused of plagiarism in an email, a first for me. I was incensed. After a time of prayer, I knew a part of my anger was due to my own pride and ego. I pride myself on writing original content, so the accusation of copying someone else really irked me. But I sought the wisdom of others. I eventually responded strongly, but nothing as strong as my original thoughts. The wisdom of others saved me from writing something I would have likely regretted for a long time.
  4. Decide to respond or ignore. Not every email, tweet, blog post or Facebook post is worthy of a response. Sometimes it's just best not to engage the critic. That can be tough, because we so much desire to defend ourselves. But if you do respond, I recommend this next step.
  5. Call or meet with the critic if at all possible. I know it's not always possible to have a verbal conversation with someone. But meeting face to face is ideal, and talking by telephone is better than a written response. Many critics are taken aback when they see the person they attacked being willing and desirous to meet with them.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Leadership is tough, particularly in the church. You will get those "nasty-grams" from time to time. Remember the wisdom of Proverbs: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1).

It's not always the easiest path, but sometimes it's the best and most godly path.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

This article originally appeared at thomrainer.com.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders