Time Out: Handling criticism attacks in ministry

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Criticism and opposition are very hard for me to handle. As I’ve matured in the ministry, I’ve learned to not take it personally. It may seem personal, and sometimes it is, but don’t be surprised and taken off guard as if everyone is supposed to always be nice to you all the time.

When a soldier gets shot at, he doesn’t get his feelings hurt and he isn’t plagued by self-doubt. He doesn’t wonder if this is the kind of work he is cut out for and considers quitting. He may do so out of fear of battle, but not just because there is a battle. A soldier who is attacked doesn’t peer over the edge of his foxhole and shout back, “Was it something I said?” Getting shot at goes with the territory so don’t take it personally. Paul clearly tells us we are in a battle and need to put on our armor and fight.

If you are in God’s army and making any kind of impact against Satan’s kingdom then he will fight back. You will be attacked. It may be financial, it may be a health issue or a relationship problem. It may be a critical remark that hits you at a weak moment. Don’t be surprised when attacked.

Jesus certainly stirred up the enemy’s work and was attacked over and over. He forgave His enemies and turned the other cheek. But He was never surprised by attacks nor did He take them personally.

If you are going to have a long and fruitful ministry you can’t take criticism and attacks personally. Now if you have done something un-Christlike that is a different story, but if you are doing your best to live for Him then the attacks aimed at you are really directed towards Him. Since He isn’t here we take the brunt of the attacks from those who would oppose Him. Don’t fight back but respond in love, as Jesus did. It’s not about you – it’s about Him. Love them and treat them as Jesus would. Go ahead, try feeding the hand that bites you.

1 Peter 3: 14-17, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Ephesians 6:10-18, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”


  • What is your normal first response to criticism or opposition? Is it what Jesus would do in similar situation? What can you do to become more like Him in your response?
  • What can you to do better keep from taking everything personally?

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on September 14, 2009

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