Thursday, August 06, 2009

Handling Criticism Part 1

We started a great discussion yesterday at staff meeting about how to handle criticism. Every one of us receives criticism from others, whether that is from a neighbor, friend, family member, boss, coworker, of fellow church member. Criticism can cause us to get angry and respond inappropriately if we are not careful. And because we don't think much about criticism except when we are getting criticized in the moment, we rarely take time to think objectively about handling criticism.

At our staff meeting, we broke down criticism into three types - personal criticism, criticism about another person, and criticism about the church/ministry in general. Each is different and requires different skills to respond graciously. Today, I want to give you our thoughts on the first type of criticism. How do I respond when I get personal criticism? In my world, this generally has to do with my preaching or leadership at the church. In your world, it is probably something different. Here's a few biblical tips we came up with:
  1. Don’t assume bad motives too quickly, jumping to the worst possible conclusions about the person delivering the criticism
  2. Attempt to separate the facts from the person as much as possible
  3. Listen well before you respond (James 1) in order to make sure that you understand what is being said correctly before responding to it (active listening - so I am hearing you say....)
  4. Take some time to process before you respond in anger (be slow to speak - some people respond too quickly and regret what they say)
  5. Don’t take too much time to process lest the emotions turn to bitterness (some never respond, but avoid and bury their emotions which can lead to other problems)
  6. Filter the criticism through a biblical grid – is this criticism a sin-issue in my life that I need to repent of, a personal preference that I can be flexible on, or simply a personality difference?
  7. Process the criticism humbly, thinking of others instead of being completely self-absorbed and defensive (Phil 2:1-4)
  8. If repeatedly criticized by the same person, be discerning about deeper issues in that person’s life (hurt people tend to hurt people)
  9. Don’t sin in your anger, but use your words appropriately (Eph 4), seasoning your speech with grace (Col 4:6)
  10. Evaluate your response through the grid of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) - am I self-controlled, gentle, peaceable, loving, maintaining my job, etc.?
  11. Pray for discernment and wisdom (James 1) to understand what you need to learn

I hope that helps you the next time you receive some personal criticism - great food for thought.


Elizabeth said...

Many words of wisdom in this list. We probably need to read this list more than one time. Thanks for sharing!
Love, Mom

Sean Chandler said...

This touches on some issues I've been dealing with the last week (well the last 5 months). Very helpful.