When the Critic Comes
Criticism is inevitable. Critics are the price of influence, the cost of leadership, the result of doing anything significant for the kingdom of God. As a result, every pastor, every Christian, should be aware that the calling to follow Christ comes with the occupational hazard of the critic.
I have had my share of criticism. I’ve been informed that I must be more appreciative of volunteers and express that thankfulness verbally and publicly. One of the elders at the church pulled me aside to tell me that I should put my phone away in meetings and do a better job at engaging with people one on one. I’ve been rebuked because my choice of analogies, or stories, used to illustrate important biblical truths have, on the rare occasion, offended one or two people in the church. On and on I could go. Criticism is a part of life. Some criticisms are fair and helpful and other criticisms are unfair and destructive. So, how should we receive, evaluate and respond to criticism?
Good Listening Goes a Long Way
In the book, The Peace Maker, Ken Sande gives some helpful principles for good listening that are crucial in the midst of conflict and criticism.
This is great advice for when we are hearing criticism. But how do we evaluate criticism? I will discuss this matter in my next blog post.
 This constructive piece of criticism is why I now have a sticky note reminder on my office wall that says, ‘Be nicer, be thankful.’ It is actually right next to a Martin Luther quote, which says, “I did not start the reformation. All I did was preach the word of God and drink beer. The word of God did the reforming.” I love that quote. And, oh yah, people have criticized me for that too. Beer bigots.  Ken Sande, The Peace Maker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1991), 169