As any pastor can tell you, Christians can be some of the most patient, thoughtful, and kind people in the world. Thank God for them! But they also know that some church members can be some of the most critical people on earth. Pastors, however, aren’t the only ones aware of this. Ask any ministry leader what the most difficult part of their job is and they will tell you it is dealing with fault-finders, critics. They know that regardless of how hard they try it will never be good enough for some folks. That’s why it takes a thick skin to stay in the ministry over the long haul –they can’t take the heat so they get out of the kitchen. And if they throw in the towel, guess who speaks most harshly of them? Yeah you guessed it— the very ones who criticized and discouraged them to start with! However, there is someone who, for all practical purposes, usually quits before they do, and that’s the critic himself.
I can tell you from nearly half a century of ministry that most critics aren’t faithful in attendance or ministry. They tend to bounce around like a rubber ball. About the only way to keep them going is to cave in to every complaint, succumb to every suggestion they make, and let them rule the roost. In other words, if they aren’t running the show they bail out. If they don’t get their way they take their bag of marbles, like a child, and head for home. That’s exactly where some members are right now. They got upset about something so they dropped out. And eventually the reason for their rebellion will filter back to the pastor— they will see to that! So they sit at home pouting when they ought to be serving God. Instead of getting their heart right and getting back into church, they try to justify their rebellion by pointing out the faults of others— as though they are better than them. They criticize others but fail to take any responsibility for their own actions. They quit on God because of what somebody else has done, or didn’t do. Does that make any sense?
Here’s something else I’ve learned– most of these people are sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for the pastor to contact them and ask “What’s wrong?” Other pastors can do as they please, but I refuse to play that game. I am not going to waste my time being a baby-sitter for childish critics who see everyone’s faults but their own. If that describes you, you might as well look somewhere else, because I’m not coming. As a general rule, no one loves the church more than the pastor, yet no one is more aware of its faults and still he continues on. My point is this— seeing faults in a church doesn’t give you the right to leave it. Awareness of its faults should make you more helpful, not more of a hindrance. Any pastor worth his salt doesn’t cut and run just because the church is less than perfect. Neither should you! Why should the failure of someone else cause you to fail?
One of the saddest things about these people is that, based on my experience, they seldom change. Although they could recover, the very nature of their problem makes it difficult. Their pride makes them critical and it also keeps them from admitting they are wrong. They have a reputation for being hard to please and they live up to it—year after year! I suspect some have died because of it. So,if you are a church critic I hope you will be the exception of the rule and ask God to deliver you from the sin of fault-finding. Rather than mentioning every flaw you see help us mend them. But you will have to start with your own before you can be of help to others. May God help me be a better example for you. Together we can make a difference, but we have to be different. Think about it!