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Pastors and Their Critics: A Guide to Coping with Criticism in the Ministry (Beeke & Thompson)

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Every pastor knows what it’s like to be criticized. But how does he respond? And how does he offer constructive criticism of his own? 

With wisdom, charity, and a wealth of personal illustrations, Joel Beeke and Nick Thompson answer these questions and more. The Bible is full of critics, and it gives us practical principles for responding to criticism, offering criticism, and creating a healthy church culture. As Beeke and Thompson unfold a theological vision for coping with criticism in the gospel ministry, you will be strengthened, encouraged, and equipped.


Table of Contents: 

Foreword by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Introduction: A Largely Unaddressed Problem

Part 1: Biblical Foundations for Coping with Criticism

1. Old Testament Foundations for Coping with Criticism

2. Christological Foundations for Coping with Criticism

Part 2: Practical Principles for Coping with Criticism

3. Receive Cricism Realistically 

4. Receive Criticism Humbly

5. Respond with Sober Judgment

6. Respond with Grace

Part 3: Practical Principles for Constructive Criticism in the Church

7. Giving Constructive Critique to Others

8. Cultivating a Church Culture Open to Constructive Critique 

Part 4: Theological Vision for Coping with Criticism

9. Reorient Your Perspective

Appendix: Preparing for the Fires of Criticism While in Seminary 



Nick Thompson is a graduate of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and is pursuing ordination in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Joel R. Beeke (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, where he also serves as professor of systematic theology and homiletics. He is a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the author of several books. 



“I’m thankful for the hard thinking that has gone into these subjects in this book. . . It will help you as you try to develop a ‘tough skin and a tender heart.’” — Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary 

“What a helpful and encouraging book. . . . Should be added to the list of books all pastors and seminarians should read if they are to endure with joy and without bitterness.” — Michael Reeves, President and Professor of Theology, Union School of Theology 

“Criticism makes and breaks pastors more often than we would like to admit. . . . This book will help you to react to criticism in a biblical way—a way that builds you instead of destroying you.” — Conrad Mbewe, Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia 

“A wonderful gift to the church. . . . If you experience or fear opposition, this little volume is a must read. My only criticism of the book is that it was not published ten years ago.” — Chad Van Dixhoorn, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

“Whether a robe, suit and tie, or casual attire, all ministerial garb have one design in common—a target on the back. The unhappy reality is those targets show signs of frequent hits, many directly in the bull’s-eye. Every shot hurts, particularly those from unexpected places, and the wounds threaten the survival of the ministry. From a biblical foundation and personal perspective, Beeke and Thompson give practical instructions as to how to handle and heal from the darts of criticism. The old aphorism says that ministers should practice what they preach; to do otherwise makes them hypocrites. It is equally true that ministers should preach what they have first of all practiced; to do otherwise makes them merely theorists. Pastors and Their Critics is not theory. The principles outlined are biblical, and they have been proven to work in experience.” — Michael P. V. Barrett, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Academic Dean, and Professor of Old Testament, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary