Kindness is Not Weakness: A Pastor’s Dilemma

Kindness is not weakness. And yet, in my experience, individuals who sometimes cross healthy boundaries in church life, find it incongruous when I have to directly confront discord or divisive attitudes. More often than not, I am criticized for being unreasonable or unkind. Usually, these individuals leave the church, placing blame on me and using me as a scapegoat. They refuse to take personal responsibility for their behavior. This often is my sad reality, but one I’m ready to accept – and live with. Despite this, I remain committed to promoting kindness and positivity within the church.

The more thought I give these unfortunate times in pastoral ministry, the more inner contentment I enjoy. Because we live in a largely unparented generation, many bring their soul wounds and poor people skills into the local church. Not only do today’s pastors have to preach and teach the Word of God, but they also have to literally parent their congregation. Good social skills and conflict resolution skills are at an all time low. Mix this with high entitlement ratios, off the chart disrespect levels and an on-going rebellion toward authority, and pastors are having to be “watchmen on the wall,” ensuring that divisive attitudes, and those who choose to sow discord are confronted decisively, in a timely manner and always in love. No one in his right mind enjoys conflict, but the price churches pay for allowing dissatisfied, critical congregants to go unchallenged and corrected during times of gossip and unrest are way too high. If we are to lead healthy, Christ-honoring churches, then we have to be willing to be misunderstood. 

After 45 years of pastoring, I still hate these times in church life. Thank God, they’re far and few in-between, but even once is too much. I serve in a small community, where evil reports easily circulate. That’s why I have to guard both reputation and character assassinations tenaciously. Another sad reality is that some continue their verbal assaults in the community, long after they leave a local church. How this must grieve the Savior! 

Smaller churches are likely to stay small and forfeit their ability to move forward in their community when inner turmoil and ungodly attitudes are allowed to fester. Pastor friend, my prayer for you is that during times of adversity (and they come to all pastors) you will find the inner boldness, accompanied by a broken and contrite heart, to confront these potentially divisive scenarios. These times remind us that kindness mixed with meekness – steel wrapped in velvet – will ensure your church’s healthy future. The local church must be a safe place for all who enter its doors. Underlying tension brought on by disagreeable, controversially-driven mindsets is never welcome!

For additional information on this topic, read my book, Monday Morning Preacher,



Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *