Most of what we do is very public. Pastors lead meetings, pray at functions, preach sermons, plan church activities.
Many of the things we do are seen by many people who automatically, and often subconsciously, evaluate everything we do. I do the same thing. I am quick to judge what I see and experience. It’s natural. Without even thinking about it we decide if we like what is happening or we don’t like it. And most of the time it isn’t an issue to think about, but sometimes there are people who think they need to let us know what they think.
I believe that a pastor needs to have a soft heart and a tough skin in order to minister to the same people for a long period of time. The tough skin is necessary to let things bounce off us as people make their comments – or as you hear the whispers. There will always be things that people don’t like. It may be how you led a meeting or how you preached your sermon. It may even be what you didn’t do – if you didn’t do something they thought was your job.
As pastors, we need a soft heart. We need to find ways to forgive people. We even need to find ways to apologize when we realize we were at fault. We need to be able to love even those who don’t approve of everything we do. The reality is that over time, probably just about everybody in our congregation will have come across something they didn’t like about how we did or did not do something.
If we want a long fruitful ministry with the same congregation will need to have a soft heart and a tough skin.