These two perspectives will help you handle criticism with less angst.
1. Consider the Source of the Criticism
When it comes to criticism, you want to weigh what is said and by whom, rather than counting the number of people saying it.
Critics often build their case by saying, "A lot of people are thinking this way." They want to present as forceful an argument as possible, when in reality, it may be that they and their best friend had one conversation about it.
You can ask for specific names if you want and then count how many people actually feel this way, but it's better to weigh the wisdom and influence behind the criticism.
For instance, if a board member, staff member, elder or deacon is offering this criticism, their voice counts.
Weigh the criticism as you ask your seven questions. Pray. Resist obsessing. And use what is said to build your character and the church.
And if what was offered was done in a kind manner, with good intentions, be sure to thank your critic and ask God to bring you more people who will speak truthfully.
2. 48 Hour Rule for Preachers
Preachers, like authors, poets and songwriters, pour their souls into their sermons. We'd rather avoid feedback that hurts, but asking people not to criticize isn't good for them ... and it isn't good for us.
Early on I developed a principle that has served me well: You may bring on your criticism, but not on Sunday. Please wait until Tuesday.
I've found I'm not so tender and more able to receive and grow from the feedback after a couple days go by.
Keep the 48-hour rule in mind, pastor, as you want to correct your staff, particularly your worship leader. Give him 48 hours to distance himself from the weekend, too.
And now, some wise, poignant, encouraging words about criticism.
These great thinkers and leaders will encourage you about criticism:
"Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing." —Aristotle
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." —John Wooden
"The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." —Norman Vincent Peale
"I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism." —Charles Schwab
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots." —Frank A. Clark
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." —Winston Churchill
"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." —Abraham Lincoln
And don't skip this next quote because it's long. It's the best of all, and will help you appreciate criticism when it comes your way.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." —Theodore Roosevelt
Criticism is never fun, but it come with the territory for church leaders. Make it your goal to learn the tools that will help you handle criticism without being overcome by it.
This article originally appeared at pastormentor.com.
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