How Pastors Should Deal With Unfair Criticism

Anyone who cannot handle unfair criticism should find another calling. (Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash)

"Your sermon was too long, too short, had too many stories, not enough stories, too deep and too shallow."

Ask any pastor.

They're criticized because their wives do not play the piano, but if she does, "It looks like she is running the show." Pastors are criticized for wearing the same suits, but if they have a variety, they get slammed for spending too much times on clothes. Their kids are either too unruly or too something. The critics will always think of something to focus on.

Anyone who cannot handle unfair criticism should find another calling.

Recently, Dr. Thom Rainer invited ministers to post unfair or ridiculous criticism they had received in their ministries. The responses flew in, and when I reposted on Facebook, my friends chimed in with theirs. It made me think of a few of my own.

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

I was criticized for leading the church to spend almost a million dollars on renovating the ancient sanctuary. In truth, I was supporting the building committee, but it was their idea, and they took the lead in getting it done.

All I did was rally the church to raise the funds and lead the congregation to make the adjustments during the time we were out of the building. I loved the result and did not mind taking the heat, although there wasn't a lot of it.

I was criticized for trying to integrate the church. In truth, I was trying to get our people to act like Christians toward all minorities everywhere, but no way was I pushing integration, which would have torn our little congregation apart. This was the late 1960s in the Mississippi Delta, ground zero for racial tension in those days.

I was criticized for ... hold on ...

Wait just a minute here.

I've hardly been criticized at all over this half-century-plus of ministry.

I have no complaints. Compared to what some of my friends have endured, I've had a cakewalk.

They hardly laid a hand on me.

This all reminds me of the cancer business. Last Sunday I saw an old friend whose multiple myeloma has required stem cell transplants and such. He has had rounds of chemo and suffered the loss of hair and other side effects.

Compared to what he has endured and still deals with, my cancer was hardly worth mentioning. And my little bout with cancer was 15 years ago. Did the surgery, had six weeks of radiation, recovered from the side effects and done. Nothing since. It's hardly worth mentioning.

So it is with harassment from the congregation. I've had almost none. My churches have been loving and kind, with only the occasional rogue member.

But the Lord told us to expect them (Matt. 10:16-42 for instance). And even they did me good in the long run. The unfair critics motivated a stronger prayer life, drove me to take special care with my preaching and deepened my spiritual life.

I'm thankful for my critics. I almost wish there had been more of them.

Well, OK. Maybe not.

Joe McKeever is retired from the pastorate but still active in preaching, writing and cartooning for Christian publications. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

For the original article, visit

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

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