Defensive Pastors – 5 Things NOT to Do

Each week pastors sit on the hot-seat. We preach sermons in which we invested hours to people who don’t have to be there. We hope what we say helps people grow, helps our churches grow, satisfies our influences, and most of all, honors God. But what happens when someone, especially an influencer, doesn’t like our performance as a leader or communicator? Or, what if they simply don’t like us? What happens we we become defensive pastors?

When that happens, it’s easy to become defensive when those people tell us what they don’t like. When I’ve become defensive, I end up the loser. When I don’t, although I may not change his or her opinion in the conversation, I actually win because the other person feels like I listened. Often, I can take a grain of truth from them and realize a growth area for me.

Below I’ve listed 5 responses that make things worse when someone criticizes us or tells us something about our performance that we’d rather not hear.

  • Cross your arms in the defensive posture.
  • Quickly interrupt them.
  • If they tell you that you are being defensive, disagree with them.
  • Bring up lots of facts that prove your point and disprove theirs.
  • Send them an angry email later.

On the positive side, what has helped you become less defensive?

Related posts.

Great article on criticism by Tim Keller here.

2 thoughts on “Defensive Pastors – 5 Things NOT to Do”

  1. As a pastor, I have certainly faced similar situations with unhappy and critical people; I appreciate your advise. A fabulous new book has helped me in ways I never imagined, its called Rare Leadership, written by Dr. Marcus Warner and Dr. Jim Wilder. One of the main skills taught is how to remain relational in the face of conflict or crisis, keeping relationships bigger than problems. What a valuable resource. I encourage everyone to get a copy!

  2. I would recommend a book called ‘A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix’ by Edwin H. Freideman. One of the things that the book brings out is that when you encounter opposition or criticism that actually means that you are being effective.

    If you live in the UK (or can hop across the pond) I would also recommend the Leading with Emotional Maturity residential course from Bridgebuilders.

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