Learning to Weather the Storms of Ministry Criticism

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This week we posted the 2010 Global Leadership Summit faculty lineup via a Webcast. This, to me, is one of the strongest lineups ever assembled for the Summit.

Every year we receive feedback from many church leaders who love the lineup, and we receive some feedback critical of some speaker selections.

The question our staff was asking me this week was “how will we respond to criticism and complaint?”

“It all depends on the tone,” I replied. From the tone of the criticism you can usually tell if the person genuinely seeks to contribute toward a Kingdom “win” or if they’re simply advancing a personal agenda (or indeed a vendetta!).

The biblical example I use as my filter is found in Acts 18, where Priscilla and Aquila listened to Apollos’ slightly off-base teaching. Verse 26 says that, “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”

Here are the ingredients of Kingdom-minded criticism:

  • Really LISTENING. Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos. There’s no evidence that that they did anything beyond sitting quietly and respectfully paid attention to what Apollos was saying.
  • Genuine CARE. They invited him to their home. There was no public embarrassment. The setting was private. It was respectful.
  • Thoughtful COACHING. They explained to him. They didn’t blog “10 Things We Hate about Apollos” or “3 Signs of Heresy in Apollos’ Teachings.”

To those who simply post shrill blogs, which serve only to tear down rather than build up, I pay no attention whatsoever.

But when the criticisms come, and they will, I will spend time in dialogue with anyone who approaches us in the spirit of Priscilla and Aquila. Even if we remain in disagreement, a Kingdom-minded discussion is always welcomed and worthwhile.

How do you handle criticism in ministry?
How do you promote constructive criticism in ministry?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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