Over my 21 years of pastoral ministry I heard many criticisms of me, the church, and my ministry. Some of them had merit, others did not. But there are two that stand out as the stupidest criticisms of all time. Some details have been changed to protect the stupid.
1) A couple in our church were having marriage difficulties. One day the man got arrested for threatening his wife.
While he was in jail the wife called me a few times seeking help. One time she asked if someone could mow her lawn. I arranged for someone to mow her lawn. We had several discussions on the phone about the “situation” involving her husband.
When the husband got out of jail he found out that the wife had talked to me. So he came over to my house. When I saw his SUV pull up in the driveway I went outside to meet him. I had three small kids in the house and figured it would be best to keep him outside.
He parked behind our car that was in the garage. He proceeded to go off on me and my ministry, rolling through his list of reasons I was an idiot. I knew his whole deal had nothing to do with me and was more his own guilt and self-justifications. I did not respond much at all. Just stood there and listened to his rant.
When he exhausted his list, he made up one more problem. He pointed to my seven year old Toyota Camry in the garage. “Pretty nice car for a pastor,” he said. “Must be nice.” I just laughed because seriously a Toyota Camry? Meanwhile, his brand new SUV was parked right behind it! Unreal.
This happened about 10 years ago. The guy is now dead. The Camry still runs fine. My son just got it stuck in a snowbank this afternoon. But yeah, a Camry is too nice of a car for a pastor. A classic moment in my illustrious career.
2) A person who attended our church sporadically for a few years used to go around to churches all over the state asking for money. She had an alleged handicap, which prevented her from working but did not prevent her from asking churches all over the state for money.
I had many unusual moments with this individual, including her asking my recently widowed grandma to give her my grandma’s house since that’s what Jesus would do and also once made veiled threats to kidnap my kids.
Anyway, I, who have an actual handicap, am not able to drive because I am legally blind. I would often ride my bike for transportation, many of those places had to do with my job. I’d visit people and go to meetings and all sorts of stuff via my bike. Everyone in the church was well aware of this arrangement. I received a letter from this woman once that said, and I quote, “I saw you on your bike again. You seem to do that a lot. Must be nice to be a pastor where you can play all week.”
So, there you have it. Two of the stupidest criticisms I received as a pastor.
Now I know that everyone receives criticism in their jobs and general life, but I gotta tell ya, being a pastor sure brought out the stupid criticisms. Finding fault with a pastor is necessary for many people to assuage their guilt. They have to prove they are better than you to buttress their spiritual superiority. People can’t just leave churches, they have to be better than the people they are leaving, especially better than the pastor.
Every pastor has heard completely stupid criticisms of their ministry. The thing that always blew my mind was that there were plenty of legitimate criticisms people could have thrown at me! But they skipped those ones and made up ones that weren’t even remotely factual.
Fun stuff. Good luck out there pastors! Fight the fight. Do well and prepare yourself for the stupidest criticisms possible because they’re coming.
If you want to hear more about my completely stupid ministry, I wrote a book about it. CLICK HERE to get a copy, because I went through the trouble of writing it!
One thought on “The Two Stupidest Criticisms I Heard About My Pastoral Ministry”
You’re right; those are stupid criticisms.
The fictional philosopher Forrest Gump said that “Stupid is as stupid does.” He could well have been describing that man and woman.