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Handling criticism in ministry

Handling criticism in ministryI know this is about a week old, but I just now went through my RSS reader and caught up with this post by Perry Noble. He did an excellent job of summarizing some great tips for how to handle criticism in ministry by asking three questions. Here’s my summary:

#1 – How Well Does This Person Know Me?

Pastors, you’ve got to understand WHO is doing the criticizing. People will often act before they think (I do) and make snap judgments on your character based on one line you wrote on your blog or something you said in a sermon in which they did not listen to the entire context.

BUT…I do listen to those closest to me. I have created an open atmosphere among the leaders here at NewSpring…and behind closed doors I have been both encouraged and rebuked. You’ve got to have people around you who are willing to tell you the truth or this does not work. AND…I listen to the people in our church, who are neck deep in ministry with us…their opinion matters!

#2 – What Attitude Does The Person Criticizing Have?

Bottom line, if someone comes at me with a negative, condemning attitude…I write it off. The Bible says that we are called to speak the truth…but we are called to do so in love.

#3 – Does What The Person Is Saying Pass Through The Filter Of Scripture?

Let me say this–Scripture IN CONTEXT, I have discovered that there are some people out there who can make the Bible say anything they want it to say by misquoting God’s Word. But Scripture in context…I will listen to that.

#4 – Is This Criticism Personal Or Shared By Others?

…we will fall for the line, “I’ve been talking to a lot of people…and everyone is saying…” And then they will unload their personal agenda on us and say that everyone is saying the exact same thing. Which in most cases is not true.

#5 – Is This Worth My Time?

…what I have discovered is that the majority of the criticism I get simply isn’t worth my time. I am NOT going to change the person’s mind…and “friendly debate” is out of the question…so I just move on.

Thanks for your insights, Perry! This helps a lot.


Posted on April 19, 2007

  • Most of the criticism that I get, especially from parents, I end up agreeing with. For example, I had a parent that expressed a desire to have more one on one attention for their child. I absolutely agreed with them. I asked them how much time they thought their child should have from the ministry. I then asked them how much time they are willing to give to the ministry. Most complaints are like that. People come into it somewhat unrealistically and expect you to disagree with them. I usually agree and give them my best effort in trying to help it in a more realistic way.

    That is unless I totally disagree. Then I try to give the reasoning of the ministry and why we don’t fulfill their expectations.

  • Negative criticism is tough. If we’re not careful it can steal our joy, our passion. Over the years I have learned to surround myself with friends in the ministry that provide me with positive criticism even when it’s negative. Meaning…at times I have received criticism that at first was tough to take, but it was given to me in love. As a result it only betters myself and the ministry God has called me to. It’s the negative criticism given out of something other than love that really causes hurt and steals our joy. Thanks for sharing.

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