A Note from Kelly King: Criticism comes when you are a leader. It’s not a matter of “if” you will feel attacked, but “when.” It’s not a matter of what is said to you (or often what’s not said to you), but how you respond to those who have caused the offense. May we all strive to be leaders of peace in the midst of opposition.
Attacked. Out of the blue, comes an attack. We’re trying to help others. We are doing the best we can and trying to follow God’s leadership. And someone takes offense.
We are attacked.
The attack comes unexpectedly and harshly. We are wounded. We are hurt. And we are afraid to respond. What if we are attacked again? Our instinct may be to run and hide, but how can we continue following Christ as a leader if we are hidden away?
Here are some ways respond to being attacked:
- Talk to God. Pour out the hurt, the frustration, and the pain.
- Ask others to pray. Do not give excessive details.
- Talk to God, not others. Limit how it’s talked about and to whom it’s talked about.
- Seek counsel and guidance on how to respond.
- Talk to the pastor or supervising minister for advice.
- Seek legal counsel when in doubt.
- Be brave. Analyze the attack.
- Is there any basis for the attack?
- Do you need to make changes to how you are serving in the future?
- What can you learn from this attack?
- Take a break. Step back, relax, refresh, and get a new perspective.
- Get a broader view.
- One attack does not mean the end of serving.
- Attacks do not mean anything was done wrong.
- Attacks do not mean you are unqualified to serve.
- Attacks are not the end of the ministry.
- Do not be afraid to confront.
- If you truly care for others, you confront them for their benefit. (Read Caring Enough to Confront by David Augsburger.)
- Confront out of a motivation to help the other person, not out of revenge or selfish ambition.
- Determine to serve where called while staying clear of drama.
- Healthy boundaries prevent you from taking on the drama of others.
- Understand this:
- Spiritual warfare is real. It is survivable.
- Attacks will come when you are following Christ.
- Staying prayed up and growing in your personal discipleship arms you for attack.
- Ministering in the messy is never easy.
Over the 39 years I have served in ministry, I have been attacked. It is always out of the blue, always fierce and hurtful, and always over something trivial. And it always passes. But each time, my first response is that my breath is taken away from me. The doubts and fears come thundering in, but quickly the peace and comfort of knowing that I am following the call God has placed on my life takes over. Reminding me that I am not alone. There is a price to go with a call, and it comes in the form of vulnerability. Ministry in the messy takes us to vulnerable places. Ministry gets messy.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
God has called Deb Douglas to make a difference in the world, one woman at a time. For over 39 years, Deb has served in women’s ministry. Now she spends her time ministering to women in the sex trade ministry and serving as the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Bossier City. Deb is a contributor to LifeWay’s All Access blog, a freelance writer, and an event speaker. Deb was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. Deb is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.