7 Differences Between A Coach And A Critic - Part One

Jan 19, 2010

One of THE most commonly asked questions I am asked whenever I have the privilege to spend time with pastors and church leaders is always, “How do you deal with critics?”

Like it or not…anyone who leads will always have his/her share of them.

I have some great godly friends who will probably disagree with me on this one, but, I don’t listen to them…I never have.  Scripture is clear in Proverbs 27:6 that wounds from a FRIEND can be trusted – AND Jesus NEVER allowed His critics to direct the course of His ministry.


For a church leader to take the journey of leadership alone is FOOLISH and ARROGANT as well.  God has placed other people in our lives for the purpose of encouraging AND correcting us.

SO…how does a person choose who to listen to?  It’s simple…there is hardly EVER a time a person should listen to a critic…but he/she should ALWAYS listen to a coach.  (I learned a lot of this while watching every Clemson home game from the sideline this year…and so just know that there will be a lot of football illustrations in this post.)

AND…I understand that by doing this series of blog posts I may seem to be sort of reactionary.  (Which is funny because it seems that critics can sit back and take shot after shot…but when a pastor says something back they are always “overreacting.”)    I can promise you that this series of posts is not in response to any particular person (which I will address @ the end) but rather something written for pastors by a pastor…because there are men and women out there who REALLY struggle with this stuff.

I believe there are seven main differences between a coach and a critic.

#1 – A Coach Has A Relationship With You – A Critic Barely Knows You.

Church leader, mark this down…when you allow the voices of those who know you the least to shape you the most then you are in SERIOUS trouble.

Watching Clemson play football this past year from up close has been awesome for me because I’ve been allowed to see the relationship between the coaches and the players.  Over a period of time there is trust built in the context of this relationship and the player honors what the coach says because of the trust that has been developed.

I’ve never seen a player give the time of day to the dude in the stands who has a hot dog and a Coke and does nothing but yell his opinion the entire time.  To that guy the player on the field is nothing more than a helmet and shoulder pads…but to the coach the player is a person, who has real feelings—period.

NOW…this analogy breaks down in certain areas.  For example…I’ve been coached by mentors through books and such; however, the thing that the authors who have coached me from a distance have that critics do not is my respect.

To be Continued…