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Criticism comes with the territory, but sometimes it crosses the line.

"You use too many stories about your children," remarked the church member. "I've also heard other people say the same thing."

I was taken back. This was the first time I'd heard this complaint.

"Thank you for sharing your opinion so frankly," I said, uncomfortably.

At first I was tempted to brush it off as the pettiness of a crank, a chronic church whiner. But as I gave it more thought, I decided the criticism was valid; I did use too many family illustrations in my preaching. Perhaps I was trying too hard to be cute, and besides, my children-who were small-might someday not appreciate being used this way either.

Complaints like this are normal fare for pastors. Sometimes the comments are trivial, sometimes misdirected, and sometimes right on target. If we're unwilling to endure criticism, we need to look for another line of work. It may not be written in our job description, but coping with critics, complainers, and even the not-so-occasional loud mouth is routine ministry.

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