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Effective management of criticism in pastoral ministry – Part 1



The world we are living in, to a large extent, prospers on criticism. Ranging from the media industries to the academic world, advertisement, politics and religion, among others, the world is inhabited by people who see things differently. Everybody has his or her views on the issues that unfold in our daily lives. It is important to know that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

At some point in your life, you will be criticised, perhaps in a professional way. Sometimes, it will be difficult to accept – but that all depends on your reaction. You can either use criticism in a positive way to improve, or in a negative way that can lower your self-esteem and cause stress, anger or even aggression.

Everybody whoever passed through this world had his/her share of criticism. Jesus Christ our Saviour and all the fathers of our faith were not spared of criticism. But they did not allow criticism to falter them instead it fostered them.
The aim of this article is to help you know how to harness other people’s views about you for the development and prosperity of your life and ministry, as well as learn how to confront criticism without being confrontational as a pastor.


Definition Of Terms Effective And Management
The term “effective” is defined in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as “producing the result that is wanted or intended; producing a successful result” (Hornby 469). Management is “the act or skill of dealing with a situation in a successful way” (Hornby 902).

Criticism is “the act of expressing disapproval of somebody or something and opinions about their faults or bad qualities; a statement showing disapproval” (Hornby 348). From this dictionary expression, we can define criticism as a remark or statement made by someone to express what he or she thinks is bad about someone or something.

Criticism according to SKILLSYOUNEED is categorised into constructive and destructive. Constructive criticism is designed to point out your mistakes, but also show you where and how improvements can be made. Constructive criticism should be viewed as useful feedback that can help you improve yourself rather than put you down.

Destructive criticism offers no help or support for improvement; it simply sets out the problem as seen by the person giving criticism. You can think of it as tending to bring someone down, and making them feel bad, whether this is deliberate or not (3).
Pastoral Ministry

The Chambers Dictionary defines the term pastoral as anything that “relates to the pastor of a church” (1191).
Ministry is defined in The Chambers Dictionary as “the office, duties, or work of a minister or clergy” (1025).
Pastoral Ministry is hereby defined as the duties of a pastor in a church or local congregation. From the above explanation, we hereby define “Effective Management of Criticism in Pastoral Ministry” as the act of processing positively and honestly what people feel is wrong with the way a pastor does his or her duties in a local congregation for the maximum benefit of the pastor and the ministry.
Scriptural Examples Of Criticism

Exodus 18:12-27; Acts 18:24-28; Numbers 16:1-35; Numbers 12:1-15; Acts 11:1 – 18. The Bible contains the stories of men and women who were involved in different forms of criticism. The above Bible passages give five examples of criticism as listed below.
• Jethro and Moses
• Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos
• The rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram against Moses and Aaron
• The criticism of Miriam and Aaron against Moses
• Peter’s visit to the house of Cornelius
Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. He paid a visit to Moses in the wilderness. During his visit, he observed how the Israelites came to Moses for judgments. He saw how Moses sat from morning till night settling disputes. He criticised Moses at the end of the day. He pointed out the weakness in Moses’ leadership style and gave advice on how it could be done better. Moses accepted the counsel in good spirit. He trained more people to do the work.

Aquila and Priscilla were partners with Paul in Acts of the Apostles. They were mature Christians, who understood the way of the Lord. One day, a young preacher, by name Apollos, ministered the word of God in their congregation. They spotted a deficiency in his sermon, as he was limited to the baptism of John the Baptist in his knowledge. They invited him home, probably entertained him, thereby making the atmosphere conducive for their discussion. They explained to him the way of God more adequately. Apollos got encouragement from the brethren and continued the ministry with better insight.


Maxwell refers to Korah as a “talented but insolent Levite, set apart to serve in Israel’s worship of the living God” (176). Korah, with the company of two hundred and fifty people rose up against Moses. They instigated people against him, publicly criticised him and continued to murmur, complain, and create a negative atmosphere. They wanted a higher position in leadership and were against two brothers at the apex (Numbers 16:3, 8-10). Maxwell adds that, “a desire for power and authority beyond what God has ordained was the reason for Korah’s criticism” (176). Moses responded by pointing out the consequence of their action to them. They refused to desist from their rebellion, a development, which angered Moses. Moses asked God for intervention. He instructed others not to join the revolt. God intervened by destroying Korah and his group.

The fourth case is that of Miriam and Aaron criticising their younger brother Moses. They spoke against the wife he married and compared themselves with him. Obviously, their criticism stemmed out of envy (Numbers 12:2). In this case, Moses did not respond. God brought an instant judgment of leprosy on Miriam. Moses interceded on her behalf. God restored her after seven days.

• Contact: United Evangelical Church, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt.

In this article:
Justice A. Amego
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