Recently I was listening to a podcast and was reminded of this truth in leadership: Leaders who make courageous decisions will face criticism. The timing of this truth was extremely relevant for my personal ministry leadership. I had just completed my largest leadership conference of the year and was on my way to read through the massive number of evaluations that sat in my trunk. Part of me looked forward to seeing how God had moved in the hearts of women, but part of me dreaded the criticism that comes when you give people the opportunity to publicly evaluate your work.
If you’re in leadership—whether it be in ministry or in the marketplace—you have the choice to make courageous decisions that aren’t always “people-pleasing” decisions. How do you face this criticism? How do you respond? Consider these four ways you can deal with critics without beating yourself up.
1. Consider the consistency of criticism. If you’ve made a decision and 99 percent of the people approve and only one percent is critical, don’t dwell on the one percent. It’s easy to hear the voices of someone who is loud and influential, but if the majority approves of your decision, focus on that. Some people say it takes seven positive comments to overrule one negative comment. On the other hand, if you see a consistent criticism, take notice and discuss ways your decision may need to be changed or adapted.
2. Consider the source of criticism. There are just some people who are consistently negative. I’m almost embarrassed to admit there are people I avoid because I know they are always going to be critical. Learn how to tune out negative people yet maintain a posture of grace and kindness. Work on building a relationship with your source of criticism rather than building a wall.
3. Consider the voices you trust. I will gladly accept criticism when it is given with the intent of helping me doing things better. Mentors and authorities in my life are voices I need to hear. They generally have your best interest in mind and only want you to succeed.
4. Consider the voices in the trenches with you. If you just finished a big event, it’s one thing to look at evaluations from strangers. It’s another when you gather the team who have planned, prayed, and executed the event. They are closest to the work and will have an objective view of what worked and what didn’t. Their criticism is often the best advice I get.
Criticism isn’t fun, but it can be constructive. Just remember to not let it rob you of the great joy of serving others.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.