Question and answer

How do you manage criticism during the inevitable wounds of ministry?

How do you manage criticism during the inevitable wounds of ministry?

It is important to have another ministry spouse as a friend/mentor to whom you can turn for prayer, encouragement, and sometimes even guidance. --Kelly Hall

Managing criticism is about patience, I think. You need to ask yourself why a person may be criticizing you. If you feel you can use the criticism to make some changes that you yourself would like to make, then use the opportunity. If you do not find the criticism helpful, try to ignore it. I know it is not always easy, but it is important if you want to survive in the ministry. Having said that, who are we to criticize anybody else, and who are they to criticize us? I do not believe in criticism per se, but rather in sound advice given in a loving manner. --Annette Maj-Britt Ottesen

First of all, I try to remain calm. Don’t always manage; sometimes I have to ask for concrete examples in order to understand the criticism. What also helps me is to avoid wild justifications. When I can, I try to decide which criticisms are useful and which are not. As far as possible, I try to ignore subjective criticism. On the other hand, it’d be useful to apply suggestions for genuine improvement. --Telma Witzig

I find criticism very difficult. Some people can be so harsh about our best efforts, because their expectations of the pastoral family is so high. I’ll admit that I have a tendency to withdraw from situations or people which I know will be critical; probably not the best solution, but it helps me! --Heather Keough

Some people criticize because they are struggling with something else and criticizing is their outlet. Reaching out in a loving manner makes a big difference. I’m learning to love praying for the other person and accepting the challenge to learn more about them and try to understand what is going on under the surface. The criticism often goes away, and I find myself with a new friend. Recently our church merged with two other churches, and some people had their feelings hurt. They have shared with us because they want answers or relief. This normally makes me reclusive, but I’m asking God to make me more like Him in these situations. My devotions have been about the importance of caring for others (more deeply than normal), so I’ve begun staying with the greeters every Sabbath morning until the sermon starts. It has opened a door to connect and really know how everyone is doing. I’ve been blessed by hearing their happiness or praying for their struggles and then seeing God answer those prayers. I’m learning that I love sharing God’s promises and feel joy to hear their fulfillment. --Constance Campbell-Folch

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