Dealing with Discouragement from Criticism

Our local MHP chapter gathered last Thursday and I gleaned a lot of great wisdom from what people shared.    We specifically talked through discouragement that comes from criticism and at our next gathering we’ll tackle discouragement that comes from perceived lack of momentum.

So here is a list of top ten thoughts the guys shared:

1) The source of criticism is key:  if it comes from people who support you and love the church, it is a gift, regardless of how it is packaged

2) Criticism in a church hits harder than in business.  Either because it is sometimes wrapped in divine language or delivered more personally than in any other context.  (This was generated from the question, “why do I take it so personally?”  To which one guy replied, “because it is often delivered so personally.”)

3) One pastor taught his church how to (and how not to) bring criticism by narrowing the streams of critical communication.  He now only receives it face to face, direct from the source.  Nothing written, no email, nothing anonymous.

4) One guy shared about how his ongoing preaching about authenticity and real community brought “a flood of one directional honesty” where people wanted to only confront him, but not receive any feedback.

5) If your leaders have your back, invite one of them to always accompany you to a meeting with a critic.  Their presence allows you to move from being defensive to being able to minister to the critic.  Also, if they’ve got your back and the critic is right, they’ll tell you.

6) Honest, love driven criticism is a gift for our blind spots and pride.  Take it, learn from it, grow and move on.  Ego is a constant competitor for the pastor’s heart.

7) Some critics treat you more or less than human.  I actually had one guy tell me once, “I forget that you’re human.”  That would explain why you treated me like a punching bag.

8) Knowing someone’s story and context helps us to process the criticism

9) Criticism always hurts.  If it stops hurting, you’ve stopped caring. BUT, it hurts because it puts pressure on your idols:  the need to be right, the need to be understood

10) To receive criticism and grow from it, I must have the freedom to let people misunderstand me.

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