In this situation, it is important to determine if the pastor knows he has verbally hurt someone. If not, (sometimes our words unintentionally hurt another), then the person who feels wronged, should directly contact and talk to that pastor.  Jesus gave this instruction in Matthew 18:15 (ESV), “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…” If the pastor realizes he has spoken offensive words and he agrees with this point of view, then he should apologize for his words. 

However, if the elder agrees he has spoken hurtfully, but does not apologize, then the victim should follow the instructions outlined in Matthew 18:16,17 (ESV), “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” Bringing the matter to the church should only be followed when the offense is serious and violates biblical principles.

The second possible situation is that the words spoken by the elder were true (they had the support of the Bible, for example, sin was called sin), and they were a necessary admonition. Then when we have been offended by such words, it is also worth talking about. A person should explain to the pastor how hurtful the rebuke felt. When the pastor responds, he needs to be as gentle as possible. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness,” Galatians 6:1. If the elder in this way communicates (with appropriate content and form), the offended person should accept this admonition as a correction from God.

A third situation may be that the pastor’s word choice basically reflected a personality difference. We all have different personalities. We can and do rub others the wrong way. As James 3:2 teaches, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” A person’s word choices may not violate biblical principles, but may simply be a matter of less appropriate words. It takes a mature person to recognize we simply don’t get along with another. Then we may need to drop the matter and move on. 

Remember Paul’s admonition: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18 (NASB)