>Do You Need "Tough Skin" to Be a Pastor?

>Saw the cartoon below over at David Hayward’s site, NakedPastor.  Now, having followed David’s blog and comics for a year or so, I know that he had a difficult period in his ministry.  I think he resonates with the cartoon.

For myself, I can think of a few instances where “tough skin” or “thick skin” were definitely needed in my own ministry–two more painful than the others.  In one case, my desire to do outreach to Hispanic persons in the community was met with a loud rejection by some members of the congregation I served.  There were angry letters and angry meetings.  But, probably the most hurtful part was persons walking out of the worship service before communion.  That seemed like an intentional attack on my pastoral identity.  Was it?  I don’t know.  A lot of years have come and gone since then.  Everyone’s moved on.  But, even though I had to have tough skin and try not to take it personally, I’m not sure I did a very good job with that.  The other serious case is less defined and harder to describe.  However, it involved persons questioning my integrity, my trustworthiness.  There was one real bad meeting that involved my wife leaving in tears.  It was painful.

But, I’m not sure I ever thought of it as having “tough skin” but rather trying to see what the underlying reasons for the complaints/concerns/attacks were.  I guess I’ve always known that many of the hurtful issues that come up in the church really aren’t so much about “me.”  (There may be some that were about me.  I’ll admit that.)

On the other hand, I guess being able to step back and look at the root causes of crisis and concern and not take it all personally does require “tough skin.”

Thanks, David, for making me think today.

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