It’s easy to criticize the pastor and I know that for two reasons. One is I was a preaching pastor for almost 40 years in two churches; and the other is that on many Sundays the last 20 months I have been listening as a worshiper in a variety of congregations. That means I have been criticized, and I have also criticized.

The reality is that like all positions of leadership and being up front pastors will be criticized. As has often been said: “it comes with the territory.” Pastors should not be surprised by criticism. And the criticism, of course, is not limited to their preaching. In my book A Pastor and the People: An inside Look through Letters I have a chapter entitled “Troublesome Letters” in which I include a variety of critical letters I received. To be fair I received many more letters of gratitude and appreciation than I did criticism, but the “Troublesome Letters” chapter is important.

Why do people criticize pastors? For many reasons. Charles Stone, who has written a lot about pastors, suggests seven reasons church people criticize pastors: they lack spiritual maturity, they feel they are losing the church they once knew, they don’t feel they have a voice, they don’t deal with change very well, they need to find something or someone toward which to vent their hurt caused by other life issues, they are truly malevolent people committed to your demise, and they have a point. Reasons two, three, and four in Stone’s list are all pretty much the same and do account for a lot of criticism. I have no personal experience with regard to reason six. I think reasons one, five, and seven are worth greater consideration.

We could probably attribute most criticism of pastors to a lack of spiritual maturity (Stone’s first reason), but not all of it. And if we look beneath the surface we will see a lot of venting of unrelated hurt (reason five) in people’s criticism of pastors. That’s a good thought for criticized pastors to keep in mind. But the reason I am most interested in is number seven: they have a point.

Pastors are not above or beyond criticism. No one is. In the introduction to A Pastor and the People I suggest “Perhaps the bottom line in receiving criticism is to ask if it is valid.” That requires a measure of humility, but the uncomfortable truth is that the critic may be right. In the opening to the chapter on “Troublesome Letters” I acknowledge “Not all of these letters are troublesome because they are critical. Several of them are troublesome because they are true” (p. 79). Pastors need to admit it when they are wrong without thinking the admission will diminish their status. It many cases it will enhance it.

To both pastors and those who criticize them I would encourage making a real effort to understand the other. Keep in mind that although it is not a spiritual gift, there is a place for constructive criticism. None of us is perfect. Criticism is rarely pleasant, but it is sometimes needed. As Pastor Jason Byassee notes, “it is comforting that God only has, and has ever had, sinners [imperfect people] to work with.”

Please share these thoughts with others and consider leaving a reply below.

If you would like to read Chapter 8 (“Troublesome Letters”) in my book send me an email at and I will send you a copy of that chapter. Or if you would like to check out the book or order it click on the picture below.

pastor n people

photo credit: <a href=”″>PALCON 2014 – PLNU</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>(license)</a&gt;


This week marks the first anniversary of the publication of my book A Pastor and the People: An inside Look through Letters. Divided into three parts and 14 chapters, the book includes a variety of letters I received and wrote during my 44 years of ministry.

I was a summer youth minister and youth minister in two churches in Ohio, the minister of a small church in Pennsylvania, and the pastor of a large church in Southern California.

Whether you are a church leader, church member, or do not attend church, this book “pulls back the curtain” on one of the most interesting “jobs” anyone can have.

Here are a few endorsement reviews of the book:

Whether you are a preacher, church leader or simply member of the congregation, I think you’ll enjoy Bob Mink’s book, a compilation of letters he received and sent during his 44 years of ministry. Not only will you be entertained by these letters and enriched by Bob’s commentary, I think you’ll benefit from the lessons Bob learned about leading a church, preaching the Gospel, and shepherding his flock.

Bob Russell, Retired Senior Minister, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY


You can learn a lot reading other people’s mail. Here is a pastor in love with his people, his Lord, his calling. It’s a big world God called him to: challenging, joy-filled, frequently frustrating, never boring and ultimately fulfilling. This is good reading.

LeRoy Lawson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Christian Ministries and Director of Doctor of Ministry Program, Emmanuel Christian Seminary


Bob Mink has compiled a lifetime of professional and personal correspondence. This book will impact your heart and head. Bob identifies why we have been called to ministry as a profession and way of life.

Dr. Joseph C. Grana II, Dean of Pacific Christian College of Ministry & Biblical Studies, Hope International University


With his unique sense of humor and unfiltered transparency, Bob Mink puts on display for all to see that being a pastor is undeniably one of the most humbling and rewarding adventures of grace and mercy a person can travel.

Steve Walker, Pastor, Canyon Hills Community Church, Bothell, WA


Would you like to see how a seasoned pastor navigated several decades of ministry, and how those he served reacted to it? Do you enjoy reading other people’s mail? Then you’ll enjoy reading Bob Mink’s unique insight into ministry shared here in letters he received and kept throughout the years. You’ll laugh and learn as you look over Bob Mink’s shoulder.

Mark Taylor, Editor, Christian Standard


Our lives are shaped by relationships and those relationships are shared through our stories. Pastor Bob takes us on a journey as he shares through letters what it means to throw your life into the arena of pastoral ministry. If you are in relationships of any kind (and we all are) you will relate, connect and be moved. I encourage you to let this man of God’s story impact your own.

Randy Paredes, Lead Pastor, Florence Christian Church


A Pastor and the People: An inside Look through Letters is an incredible resource for not only pastors but for anyone interested in an inside look at a pastor’s life. These letters paint a picture of the joys, challenges, and blessings that come along with being a pastor. Whether you feel called to vocational ministry, have an interest in what pastors actually do and go through, or simply want to read the journey of a pastor over the past forty plus years, this book is for you.

Bryan Sands, Director of Campus Ministires, Hope International University


Both the print book as well as the Kindle edition are available at The print book is also available at Barnes and

For more about the book or to order it from click on the picture below:

pastor n people

If you would like to read the introduction to the book send me an email at and I will send you a copy.

Please share this post on social media and feel free to comment below (especially if you have read the book).

Photo credit: courtesy of our grandson’s mother–our daughter.