I’ve written before about how to not be a jerk when giving criticism. I thought we’d take a look at the other side of the situation – respondingto criticism.
While criticism is always going to come our way (It wouldn’t be life – or ministry – with out it) there are some things we can do to minimize the damage and deal with it with grace.
- Pray: Even a short “God help me” might be enough. Doing this first helps keep your heart in the right place.
- Understand the driving force behind the criticism. Try to understand the issue from their point of view and what is causing this issue for them. Chances are, there’s more going on than initially meets the eye.
- Keep your cool: Don’t immediately jump to feeling personally attacked. If you get emotional, chances are they will too. Try to act like you want them to act.
- Respond to the suggestions, not the tone. There’s a chance that there’s a nugget of truth to what they’re saying, so try to look past their emotions and respond to the truth.
- Consider the source. If this person is ultimately on the same side as you and working toward the same goal you are, you might need to cast pride aside and listen. If they’re not, their complaint might be off-target too. However, don’t just blow them off – give everyone the respect you want to have given to you.
- Address their concern. Being heard is half the battle. It helps if they know you’re at least listening to their criticism. Make sure you give them an answer, even if it’s that you’re not going to change, but take the time to help them understand why. You’ve tried to see from their perspective, now try to help them see yours. Understand that it might not work, but take time to turn it into a teaching moment.
Criticism is to be expected in ministry, but with practice and patience, you can learn to handle it with grace.