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Effective management of criticism in pastoral ministry – Part 4



The pastor should seek the help of the Holy Spirit in the place of prayer. Human wisdom is limited and cannot be guaranteed. Divine wisdom gives accurate direction.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). Prayer shows that you rely on God and desire His intervention. It pulls you from human energy. The prayer of Moses addressed the rebellion of Korah, and he got divine intervention. Prayer helps you to become calm and to think aright.

The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines calmness as “the state of being calm; to become or cause someone to become less upset, emotional, excited, etc. To become less active, violent, forceful, etc.” (162). Criticism has the potential of making its subjects upset.

“Criticism, like everything else in the universe, has its own energy, and it’s palpable; being criticised is unpleasant, and the negative vibes flow” (Novickov 10). Typically, when we are being criticised, we feel uncomfortable. We feel a concrete wall rising around us, blood filling our eyes and steam emanating from our heads. Nevertheless, the pastor is expected to overcome his or her emotion through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Calmness helps the pastor to think before acting and not the reverse. It provides an atmosphere of reflection and examination. The Pastor is able to take a critical look at the nature and authenticity of the criticism. Calmness helps the Pastor to request for time to look at the issue before getting back to the people, where he thinks that his immediate reaction may not provide a solution.

“Two good heads are better than one” is a popular saying across the globe. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV). The pastor should not be ashamed to become a counselee, if that will help to remedy the situation. Maxwell adds, “every leader ought to build an inner circle that adds value to him or her and to the leadership of the organisation” (776). He, however, cautioned that in choosing an inner circle, “choose well, for the members of this inner circle will become your closest confidants; your inner circle will make you or break you” (776). Your inner circle becomes your ready-made counselors in the face of criticism.

It is noteworthy to say this inner circle does not play the role of a bodyguard to the pastor. They are also not necessarily members of his congregation. They are men and women the pastor turns to for counseling, prayers and encouragement in the face of criticism and ministerial challenges. Receiving counsel from mature and experienced ministers is strongly advocated in this method of managing criticism.
5.3 Confronting Criticism

Confronting criticism without being confrontational is the goal of this research work. The pastor who is able to achieve this will become a role model.

Psychologists have propounded different models used by people to handle criticism and other related issues. One of the models will be considered in this section.

The Confrontation Model
Confrontation model is “based on reactance theory, which suggests that individuals become motivationally aroused when threatened” (Brehm 301).

Brehm explains that: Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away their choices or limiting the range of alternatives. Reactance can occur when someone is heavily pressured to accept a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to persuasion.

To buttress further, Thacker says: In effect, the issue is one of personal control. Attempts to regain lost control are forms of reactance. A variety of methods exist by which individuals can attempt to restore lost control; one of these is direct confrontation of the source of the problem (506).

Contact: United Evangelical Church, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt.

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