If you are a pastor or lead people in any way, criticism is a fact of life. We can learn from our critics or we can destructively turn criticism into carnage in these five ways:
1. Cut yourself off from everybody who criticizes you. Stay far, far away from them. They are idiots so avoid them at all costs.
2. Believe every criticism. It’s all true, every juicy morsel of it. Believe every word of it. Make it personal. Think about it all the time.
3. Disregard every criticism. Since your critics are idiots, what comes out of their mouth is infused with globs of “idiotness.” You are a pastor, God’s anointed, a ‘called out one’ who walks with God and talks with God and knows a lot about the bible and stuff.
4. When someone criticizes you, argue them down, theologize, quote the bible, use lofty logic. Make THEM realize they are idiots.
5. Demand that your leaders, staff, and boards tell you only what you want to hear. If they have a criticism, tell then to STUFF IT.
But, we don’t have to let crititicism become carnage. We can co-operate with the Lord as He uses it to build character in our hearts. As Abe Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” When I sense that heart to help, I can learn from my critics. And it all depends on how I respond to them.
Here are 10 ways I’m learning to respond and grow my character:
1. Give them your ear, but within reason. Don’t allow someone to destroy you with caustic criticism.
2. Let your body language communicate that you are truly trying to understand.
3. Avoid an immediate retort such as “Yea but,” or “You’re wrong,” or some other defensive response.
4. Breathe this silent prayer, “Lord, give me grace to respond and not react.”
5. Before responding take a few moments to check what you’re about to say. Abe used to suggest counting to 100 when you get angry. That may a bit of overkill, but he is on to something.
6. Look for the proverbial ‘grain of truth’ in the criticism.
7. If you see more than a grain of truth and you can’t process it alone, seek feedback from a safe person in your life.
8. Ask God to keep you approachable to your critics (within reason). You probably don’t want to vacation with them. 🙂
9. Learn from your critics on how best to deliver criticism to others. When someone delivers criticism that you received well, ask yourself what about how they did it made it easier to receive.
10. For those who botched it, remember to avoid their tactic.
Consider This: Think how you’ve responded to your critics in the past. What worked and what did not?
This week’s article is submitted by Russ Olmon, President, Ministry Advantage and Charles Stone, Certified Ministry Advantage Coach & Author. For more on this and other helpful subjects, go to www.ministryadvantage.org.
For over ten years Ministry Advantage has been one of the premier church resources that provides coaching and training for pastors and church leaders helping them turn their vision into reality.