Saturday, August 08, 2009

Handling Criticism 3

The final type of criticism that those of us in the church are likely to experience is general criticism about the church or about a ministry area. This is different from 1 & 2 because it is not directed toward you as a individual and is really not about another person, but it general in nature. As spiritual leaders, this kind of criticism can be hard to figure out. Here's a few words of wisdom to shape your response:
  1. As with all of these situations, understanding the person well is of primary importance (what are they really saying/critiquing?)
  2. When people criticism something in general language (the church is so ______ or this ministry is too _______), we need to encourage them to get more specific in their criticism – what have you experienced that makes you feel that way?
  3. When driving people from generic statements to specifics, we sometimes find that we have to go back to point two because they are really upset with one person, not the church in general (but don’t know how to process their emotions).
  4. Sometimes, we also have to be discerning when people use others’ behavior as an excuse to not take responsibility for their behavior – we sometimes call this the victim mentality. In these situations, we need to lovingly direct people away from being others-focused to being self-aware.
  5. On top of this, we additionally need to be willing to learn from general criticism – maybe the issue is not personal offense or a victim mentality – maybe we are being told something we need to really work on as a group. It is helpful to ask, “What do we need to learn from this comment?”
  6. Finally, we need to see when a value mismatch is present. Some organizational conflict is personality based, but many times it is value-based. In these situations, we can be most helpful to others by helping them see the root values mismatch involved.
  7. For example, if someone criticized our church because we are evangelistic even after the biblical foundation and vision were clearly explained, the core issue is primarily a values mismatch and will not go away. Either the person will have to adopt our values, live in the tension, or find another church with different values.

These principles will work for any organization - not just the church. But they require you and I to know the core values of our organization and not try to change who we are in every conversation we have in order to try and make everyone happy. Behind the scenes of this discussion is a big issue - are we ultimately trying to please God or please man? They are not always in tension but many times are.

1 comment:

Brandon and Jenny said...

Goodness,, those last three posts had a lot of useful information. How we take criticism reveals so much about us. thanks.