This article by Dan Doriani is an exceptional piece on what is certainly one of the most dispiriting parts of pastoral ministry: fielding criticism. Fellow pastors and parishioners near and far, please take a few minutes to read Doriani’s comments on how and why churches wound their pastors. Here’s one of my favorite portions of the article:
Senior pastors with great skill as preachers and leaders suffer criticism for deficient people skills. Some pastors are awkward or aloof. But even friendly, perceptive pastors hear this criticism. Why? Highly gifted preachers and leaders probably are less adept with people. Who excels at everything? Beyond that, senior pastors must push through demanding schedules. That can make them seem abrupt. Everyone is finite. Faithful pastors face demands on their time, so they cannot socialize freely. This is unavoidable, yet it offends. Yes, the ideal pastor will be equally adept at (1) preaching and teaching, (2) casting vision and leading, (3) and counseling and mentoring. But no human excels at every task.
Consider that God ordained three ongoing offices for Israel: prophet, priest, and king. None but Jesus held all three offices. Few had even two: Melchizedek was priest and king, Moses was a prophet and kingly leader, and David was king and prophet, at least informally, through his psalms. Even if we add a few more dual-role leaders, almost no one had two offices and no one but Jesus had all three.
The implication is clear: No church should expect its pastor(s) to excel in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly aspects of godly leadership. No one is equally gifted and passionate about the prophetic (teaching and preaching), the kingly (leading and organizing), and the priestly (shepherding and prayer). Even if a pastor were capable in every area, he’ll find one exhilarating, the other exhausting.