|Courtesy of Dreamstime.com|
It’s a humbling experience to think back to my early days of youth ministry because I think about my stubbornness and inability to let things go. I remember receiving an email from a frustrated parent, telling me how disappointed she was in the affect my ministry was having on her teens. It was the type of email that cut to my heart and filled me with self doubt. So what did I do?
I obsessed over it. I printed out the email, taped it to the back of a binder and dwelled on phrases and words trying to justify why she felt that way. After talking to my pastor I realized what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to let go, so I threw away the letter and promised myself I would never allow a parent or anyone’s criticism get to me. I would like to say I’ve been perfect, but that would suggest that Satan’s given up on stealing my joy. But, I’m still here and it’s because I’ve learned to:
- Let Them Talk: When someone has something to say one of the best things you can do is let them say it. It might be harsh, it might be enlightening or both; but, if you don’t let them speak then you’ll only make it worse.
- Slowly Respond: You might want to fight back, give them what’s on your mind and even if you are justified in what you feel, it might put you on the wrong side of a situation. If you need to take a moment or even a day to gather your emotions and think about the best way to resolve the situation. (What to do before you respond, click here)
- Look At The Deeper Issue: They might tell you one thing; however, the reason they are so mad or disappointed with you may be something entirely different. Many times a person’s anger towards you is because they are realizing that they are not in control, or something doesn’t go their way. If this is the case be patient and help them find the issue beneath the issue.
- Vent To A Trusted Ally: Don’t hold onto the situation, get it off your chest as soon as possible. When someone comes at you with a hard critique you’ll need a friend to help you digest it. No matter what you tell yourself handling it on your own is dangerous.
You can’t control how everyone will respond to the way you lead your ministry; however, you can control how you respond. Leaning into the situation, realizing it’s a moment in the journey and not the end will help you stay on course.
What’s your stumbling block when it comes to facing criticism?