I learned a long time ago that any leadership role makes you a target for critics. Then, it didn’t take long to realize that writing anything publicly also invites their response. I’ve written about dealing with criticism in general before, but my focus today is on what I’ve learned from others:
- Have somebody to talk to. Dealing with criticism alone is risky—and responding to a critic without a friend buffering your frustration can be detrimental. Have somebody you trust to hear your response.
- Don’t respond hastily. Quick responses are usually emotional responses, and they’re seldom the exact response we would have made with more thought. The proverbial call to “count to 10” before responding isn’t a bad idea.
- Give the critic the benefit of a doubt. Perhaps he or she is dealing with junk unbeknownst to us. His family might be in turmoil. She may have lost her job. Sin might be eating at their souls. Their criticism might reflect more who they are than who we are.
- Respond first to yourself, not to the critic. That is, write an email or letter response, but be careful to send it to yourself only. That way, an inadvertent hit of the “send” button won’t result in further problems.
- Ask, “Will this issue matter a year from now?” If it won’t matter 12 months from now, it’s probably not worth much attention. Press on, and be patient while the criticism passes.
- Stay focused on the mission. An overarching mission that matters more than our own hurt feelings can make much difference when facing critics. For me, the Great Commission call to reach non-believers and disciple new believers is more important than my personal concerns.
- Remember what matters most. What matters most is our walk with the Lord and our relationship with our family. When these are in order, criticisms lose their force. And, both turn our attention from the critics.
- Don’t forget that somebody’s watching. We may not know who’s watching, but somebody is – and that person is particularly watching to see how we respond to criticism. A healthy response becomes a discipling moment.
What have you learned from others?