Saturday, December 30, 2006

Baxter on Criticism in Ministry

When pastors first enter the ministry, one of the most difficult things for them to deal with is the personal attacks and petty criticisms that come their way. In fact, they are most often blind-sided by it, and generally do not know what to do. In his 1656 book, The Reformed Pastor (Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA: 2005), Richard Baxter takes a refreshingly different look at the nature of ungodly criticism in the ministry:

“If other men may sin without observation, so cannot you. And you should thankfully consider how great a mercy this is, that you have so many eyes to watch over you, and so many ready to tell you of your faults; and thus have greater help than others, at least for restraining you from sin. Though they may do it with a malicious mind, yet you have the advantage of it…

“Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and do your work as those that remember that the world looks on them, and that with the quick-sighted eye of malice, ready to make the worst of all, to find the smallest fault where it is, to aggravate it where they find it, to divulge it and to take advantage of it to their own designs, to make faults where they cannot find them. How cautiously, then, should we walk before so many ill-minded observers” (75-76).

And how thankfully we should walk before them, because their malice is in the hand of God a refiner’s fire that will mold us all the more into the image of Christ--if we’ll have eyes to see, and a heart ready to receive the blessings of our Father.

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