If you’ve spent any time in ministry, you will have critics. There will be people, some of whom haven’t been in ministry themselves, who think that they know how to do your job better than you do. I’ve seen this happen a lot with Pastors. Don’t get me wrong, no Pastor should ever be above listening to people, but they must know the church, its members and the Pastor themselves. Every Pastor has critics, but spend a minute on social media and it seems that those critics become even more.
Social media can be a great source of encouragement. For example, many people say that Twitter is a horrible platform that is a shouting chamber of angry voices, personally I haven’t found that to be true. I have massively reduced the people I follow, I have changed the way I engage on Twitter and I use it as a platform to engage with other Pastors, theologians and Christians. Even with this new way of doing things, there are still those who will find something wrong with how a Pastor uses their social media.
Some critics may say that a Pastor is spending too much time online, even though they don’t actually have that information and ironically they send the accusation online as well. Some argue that the way Pastors conduct themselves online isn’t right, where this is actually true it is good for someone to be held accountable. However, a Pastor could be the perfect online presence and there will still be critics who throw accusations out with little to no knowledge of the Pastor themselves.
There will always be those who think they know better.
One of the things most critics of Pastors on Twitter don’t seem to understand is that for some of us Twitter is the place to connect with others in ministry who we’re fighting alongside, from a distance. The constant niggling that some Pastors receive is crazy, they get enough of that in the real world, what is the problem of letting them have some down time online with others who actually know what it’s like and some of the struggles they might be dealing with?
This is one of the reasons some people leave twitter. It’s the result of discouragement and constant, mostly unnecessary, criticism which continues the cycle as more encouragers leave this platform. Please consider the person on the other side of your keyboard before you tweet.
I can’t imagine someone would walk into a doctor’s office and tell them that they’re prescribing the wrong drugs, that they’re not listening to their patients, that all of their systems are wrong and that they shouldn’t be in their professional role because they don’t agree with points x, y and z. I don’t think many people would do that, they do probably exist, but it happens to Pastors all time.
Whilst each Pastor can resolve in his heart and mind to deal with these things int he way he sees fit, the questions is should he have to?
Most critics of Pastors, ministries, para-church organisations, etc. claim to be Christian who are standing for what it means to be faithful in faith and in ministry. However, often the way they speak and the way they conduct themselves matters. Every Christian has a responsibility to conduct themselves in a way that honours Jesus, that includes each of our interaction online. Remember that next time you login to social media and remember that next time you want to criticise someone online for doing their job. You probably don’t know everything about their situation, experience or environment. Whilst you think you know better, that might not always be the case.