What to Do When Criticized
If you lead, you will be criticized. Even the greatest leaders will face criticism. So what is the best way to handle it?
First, we need to ask ourselves if the criticism is true. We should prayerfully ask God to reveal to us His perspective on the situation. If we can see and sense that there is even partial truth to what is being said, we should humbly make adjustments.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted… Proverbs 27:6a (NIV)
And in some cases an apology might be necessary. Leaders who can see they have made a mistake and apologize for it are not showing weakness, they are showing strength and humility, and when they are humble, those who are under their authority will respect them for it.
Secondly: If it is not true, we must be careful to not let criticism weigh us down with discouragement. I love this quote about criticism from John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach:
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” John Wooden
In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah was facing a mocking critic who said:
“What they are building-if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” Nehemiah 4:3b (NIV)
His response and the response of the people was to keep working with all their hearts:
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. Nehemiah 4:6 (NIV)
In the case of unfounded criticism, don’t take the guilt and don’t get discouraged. Try to patiently explain your true heart to those who have misunderstood and go on. Keep your head up and trust the Lord. Do not get caught up and focus on criticism. Focus on the tasks at hand and get the job done. Think of those criticizing unfairly as fans booing in the stands – they can’t really affect the game unless you let them get in your head. Don’t let criticism distract you, keep moving, keep ministering and win the day!
No matter how good you are criticism will come. One of the characteristics that shows great leadership is an ability to focus and resist an emotional letdown. Keep a good attitude and keep doing the work God has called you to and He will give you success!
In Nehemiah the end result was:
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16 (NIV)