Five Perspectives That Help Me Deal with Criticisms

I am thin-skinned.

I do not like criticisms.

Perhaps many of you can say both of those statements with certitude. I know exactly how you feel. As one who has received criticisms over the years, I want to share with you personally five perspectives that have helped me deal with them. To be transparent, I don’t always focus on these perspectives. But, when I do, I find God working in me in a redemptive way.

  1. I deserve criticisms. My first reaction to criticism is usually defensiveness. I want to show why I am right and the critic is wrong. But the truth of the matter is I am wrong quite often. I am truly a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory. Who I am to say, “I don’t deserve those criticisms”?
  2. No one made me accept this position of leadership. If you lead, you will be criticized. If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t lead. It’s easy to get excited about the fun aspects of leadership. But it comes with struggles, pain, and criticisms. Leadership is not always fun and easy.
  3. I need to pray for my critics. I don’t know what’s taking place in the lives of most of my critics. I don’t know their own hurts and struggles. I need to look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). “Others” in that verse includes those who criticize me.
  4. Most criticisms last for a brief season. I should do a better job keeping the long-term perspective. I can remember too many times when I reacted viscerally to criticisms, only to forget about them in a week. Even though some of the criticisms become a part of the indelible world of blogs and social media, most are forgotten quickly.
  5. I need to have a better perspective of the cross. There is no trial, struggle, or criticism that comes close to the pain of the cross. My Savior suffered for me. He died for me. I should be ashamed of myself when I act like my world is falling apart because of petty criticisms.

Many of you readers are pastors and other church leaders. You get your share of criticisms. You know the pain. While I think I am unqualified to teach you anything about dealing with critics, I hope my own personal reflections have helped a bit.

And I appreciate you readers more than I could ever express adequately.

Posted on January 21, 2019

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Proverbs 25:21-22

    If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you.

    If someone (rightly or wrongly) criticizes you, then start with prayer, seek them out, setup a meeting, show them kindness, respond to their harshness with “the opposite of what they deserve”. Give the whole incident to God. Find one or two kernels of truth in what they said. Discuss it with them. Grab a coffee. God may turn a useless critic into a trusted advisor. Your gentle answer may turn away their anger or they may move on, or it may get worse. If it does, repeat. No matter how many many hats they wear or how thick their hair burning coals are efficacious.

    F.B. Meyer “…heap coals of loving-kindness on their heads; bring them if possible into such a broken and tender frame of mind, that they may seek forgiveness at your hand and God’s. If you cannot act thus with all the emotion you would feel, do it because it is right, and the emotion will inevitably follow.”

    It was said of Archbishop Leighton, that to do him an injury was to secure his lasting friendship.

    I don’t do the above (like I should) but I am good at suggesting it to others…

  • Walter Griffen says on

    I was criticized relentlessly by a member with a strong type A personality and a hidden agenda. We were in the middle of a major building reconstruction and he took the lead. There were several ethical issues involved with his leadership in dealing with the public at large and bullied the church to get his way. I was heartbroken. I was about to intervene and ask him to cease all functions, but God intervened in my heart and told me to call him and the church together to lay hands on him and pray for him. He ended up leaving the church just after the build was complete.

  • Uriel Isunza says on

    Working for the Lord has never been an easy task; having people criticized you for almost every single detail in you ministry makes me really wonder about their spiritual wellbeing. Nevertheless, I found a great recipe for my soul to deal with their criticism: To pray for them, and yes, just like some of you have stated, look beyond their criticism. Praying form them, keeps my mind and my soul stable; just, it hurts, but prayer makes it a lot easier to deal with that.

  • With me, it generally depends on who’s making the criticism. If it’s someone I know and trust, then I take into consideration. If it’s someone who constantly criticizes everything, I generally let them have their say, and then go right back to doing what I was before.

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