Someone questions the preacher on some topic, the preacher feels the need to be right. Someone mentions that the preacher only works on Sunday, he feels you have to prove them wrong. Someone disagrees in class, the preacher cannot just move on. These are all times in which a preacher can feel defensive. He can feel someone is questioning him, and there is this sense of pride or low self-esteem that cannot be wrong, appear wrong, or be right, and just does not have to prove it. Defensive behavior is common in preachers, how do I know, I feel it too, way too often. It is a struggle to not allow this mindset to take over. I think preachers in general are some of the most defensive people I know. Maybe it is because we get praised and attacked so often. It is hard to maintain a balanced outlook. One moment you are great and the not you are a loser. Also, you feel that if you are wrong, people will look down on you, you have a image to uphold. All of this creates defensive behavior. So what to do?
1. Ask Why. Why are you feeling the need to prove yourself, or defend yourself? You are just a man, you will be right and wrong, if you are wrong, admit, if you are right, just move on, no sense getting into a conflict, unless it is really important. Mostly watch your emotions, and do a double check on yourself first. Most times, no one will remember unless you make a big deal of it.
2. If there is a problem, confront it the next week. If there is something that should be addressed, do not do it during the class, rather wait a week and address it. Sometimes you will realize that you are just making a big deal out of it, you are functioning out of weakness, and you will let it be. If not, when you do address it, you will be prepared. Also, you do not have to give the other person the chance to speak. You are the teacher, he or she is the student, control your class.
3. If you have to give a defense, do it well. Paul was called upon to give a defense, this does not mean he was weak, but there will be times you have to defend yourself against an accuser. If this takes place, take him out. Sometimes you have to establish boundaries, and let the other person know you will not be walked over. Jesus did this, people challenged him, and he refuted them, of course do this in love, but do it clearly. Some people are bullies, and will continue to be if left unchecked.
How we response to people makes a big difference in ministry. Sometimes you have to refute people, other times, you are wasting your time, because you are operating out of weakness. Hope this advice helps.