“If you want to know what it’s like to be a pastor, put on a deerskin shirt and take a walk through the woods on the first day of hunting season.”

I don’t know who said it (just that he was an older pastor in New England), but I think he was on target.

Another pastor—this one a Presbyterian from Seattle—said something similar: “People expect the minister, his wife, and children to be perfect. But you know they don’t really think this, or they wouldn’t be so quick to criticize.”

Criticism can help us examine ourselves, help us grow. “Critics are the unpaid guardians of my soul” was the mature reaction of E. Stanley Jones to those who caviled or found fault with his work or writings.

But criticism can also be destructive. It is my opinion that more than a few children of the manse and of Christian organizations turn aside from faith and church because of treatment their parents received at the mouths of those they served. Parents may learn humility through the criticism; children may learn to despise the work of the Lord for hurts inflicted on the mother and father they love.

The law of kindness should determine our thoughts and words about our leaders. Bishop Stephen Neill has the last word, and it is an encouraging one: “Criticism is the manure in which the servants of the Lord grow best.”


Word Choice

In the Sept. 22 issue (News, “Catholic Charismatics: An Evangelical Thrust”), the Catholic charismatics are spoken of with the use of the word “evangelical.” But in my conversations with such people, I have discovered that in spite of their refreshing enthusiasm, they will not admit to any alteration of the Roman Catholic position. In other words, a full and free salvation is not yet theirs to proclaim. That being the ...

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