Unsolicited advice, constructive criticism, not so constructive criticism…all of these things are just part of life. No matter where you may find yourself there will always be someone, somewhere will have an opinion on how things should be done.
This is no different when it comes to ministry.
You see, when you put a group of individuals in a space, no matter how large or small that group of individuals may be, there will be just as many thoughts on how to run the show. Preferences, likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, and a struggle for power and control are going to be floating around in the atmosphere. Everyone has a unique perspective and point of view. And while it is an amazing and wonderful thing, it is also one of the more challenging aspects of ministry-especially when you are looking at it from a church replant or revitalization aspect.
When you consider the idea of a church replant there are a lot of dynamics that need to be taken into consideration. This small, generally older in age, group of people have been doing whatever they could to hold on for dear life. They have habits, routines, systems, and traditions in place that many may find hard to let go of when the time comes for change. Pair that with new faces, new thoughts, and new life blood coming into the congregation and fear will almost undoubtedly surface. This is where the criticism will begin to take root.
As a pastor’s wife it is VERY easy to take every piece of criticism and bury it personally in to my own back. I feel every ounce of the negative comments as a personal attack on myself, my husband as the pastor, and my children who are just trying to be kids. The problem is, that is unsustainable. When you are going to live a life of ministry you have got to develop a thick skin. It just has to happen.
This week, after listening to Mark Clifton-chruch replanting guru-on his weekly Facebook Live show where he discussed the need to develop thick skin in ministry, Dusty felt like it was something he wanted to flesh out a little more. So that is what we did. We sat down and had a conversation about why it’s so important for us as a ministry family to develop that thick skin. We talk about how it doesn’t only pertain to what is happening with the church and in ministry but also within our marriage and parenting as well.
There are going to be times when true, genuine issues will arise. Let’s face it, we are all human. Sometimes this will call for some evaluation and consideration of how to best move forward. But other times people are just looking for a place to vent and let out some frustration, and that is where it is our jobs to come along side them, allow them the opportunity to have that safe space to express their feelings and emotions and just simply be heard and understood, without us taking their words and thoughts as a personal attack.
So I hope you will grab a cup of coffee, a glass of sweet tea, or your favorite bottle of soda and join us for our conversation about why a thick skin is required if you want to do effective ministry.