In the next few blogs, I will be writing a few “Practical Ministry Lessons” that are very helpful for missionaries, but also of up-most importance for anyone in the Lord’s service. Although this series of blogs are simple and practical, I can almost promise that anyone in the ministry will face them sooner or later. The first “Practical Ministry Lesson” I would like to share is about “Handling Criticism”
I don’t write this as someone who has perfected this area, but hoping to help others handle and face the criticism with more grace.
For years, I have taken very personal any criticism (whether from other missionaries, from friends, from church people or coworkers) and I have taken it so personal that it has affected my health. One of my Biblical heroes is Barnabus and how he comforted, encouraged, uplifted and took others to another level. It is my goal to help, encourage, love and teach others, … therefore when I get criticized, it hurts. I have in no way gotten over the hurt of being criticized, but my desire in these few paragraphs is to share a few ways that makes it easier to accept criticism.
#1 – Pray for your critics. Before you throw me out saying it is easier said than lived, allow me to tell you that I totally agree that it is easier to write than to live. I find it hard in my personal life to pray for those who I think are against me or have hurt me in some way. But I also have found out that when I pray for these people, soon I can hear their name or see them without feeling hatred or hard feelings in my heart towards them.
#2 – Listen to the Criticism. Although criticism hurts and is many times intended to hurt, there is usually a piece of truth in every criticism. I must be honest that I sometimes wish bad upon my critics, but when I begin to think about it, some of my critics have taught me great lessons. I have learned to write everything on paper, thanks to my critics. I have learned to present the truth in a humble way, thanks to my critics. I have learned to listen to others advice, thanks to my critics … and many more great life’s lessons have been accumulated all thanks to my critics. So critics are not always my enemies, I need to listen to the criticism and search out the truth from the criticism.
#3 – Respond to criticism slowly. Because criticism hurts, I have many times responded back quickly and harshly. Usually what is done quickly is not done wisely – of course this is not always the case, but when it comes to criticism or bad situations, a quick answer or reaction is not usually good. When criticism comes, the best answer is usually given after a period of silence. If I don’t respond to that e-mail, phone call, smart comment, etc, I usually save myself from more headaches and heartaches.
#4 – Stay close to the Lord and your spouse. I have learned the hard way that I can not please everyone. I desire to be friendly and help others, but I think it is impossible to avoid criticism 100%. Staying close to the Lord and walking with Him always helps me with my emotions. Staying close to my wife lets me know that I have another human friend I can go home to and fellowship with not worrying about so many details. Maintaining my priorities of my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my spouse is of up-most importance in moments of criticism.
Here to Serve,