My husband and I have pastored for over 20 years at Harvest Church in Turlock, California. We have two campuses in Turlock and are expecting our third campus shortly in another city.
My point in bringing this up is to say, "that's a lot of pastoring!" I've noticed over the years that many people do not know how to receive necessary correction from their pastor when it comes.
Obviously, I would never endorse an abusive situation where correction is used to control or manipulate someone. In the healthy church environments, however, we should know how to receive pastoral correction.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Know that they are saying it because they care and not because they don't.
- Recognize that they see things from the big picture and are trying to help you to be a part of something that is bigger than you are as an individual.
- Understand that they are risking the possibility that you might have a bad reaction if they tell you the truth.
- If their words cause you to get overly defensive, ask for some time to process it and then set an appointment to finish the conversation when you can be calm.
- Don't demonize your pastor if you don't agree with them by saying, "they are controlling" or "they have a bad spirit" and so on.
- Realize this is an opportunity to get closer to your pastor in relationship.
- Emotional meltdowns are signs of deep wounds that are not about your pastor, but actually ghosts from the past. It's time for professional Christian counseling and inner healing ministry if that happens.
- Don't claim you know more Bible than they do.That is extreme arrogance and you've told your pastor that you are not teachable.
- Settle the question about who pastors you. If teachers outside your church whose lives you don't know are feeding you more than the ones in your church whose lives you do know, recognize that you have a heart issue with your leadership.
- Dialogue with your pastor through the issue. Hear their heart and share your heart as well. A pastor wants to know that they are reaching you in a positive way and that they can still run with you after the tough talk is over.
Your pastor is actually seeking to be closer to you if they are making the effort to talk to you about something that needs to be addressed. If they didn't care, they wouldn't say anything.
Jennifer Eivaz is a minister and international conference speaker with a heart for raising up passionate and effective prayer. She is a regular contributor to Charisma online and The Elijah List, has taught at Bethel School of the Prophets and oversees the Seers & Prophets Institute. Jennifer lives with her husband Ron and their two children in Turlock, California, where she serves as executive pastor at Harvest Church.
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