categories: development, leadership, personal, spiritual development
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January 18th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

15 comments (+ Add)

How Do You Handle Criticism?

One of the most common questions that I’m asked by young pastors is, “How do you handle the critics?” While I’ve written on this some in the past, this week I want to tackle it from a different angle.

First of all, I’ve realized that no matter what a leader does, he or she will be criticized. For example, I’ve been criticized a lot for building the church around my preaching. When I started using more teachers, I received equal criticism for not preaching enough. Criticism comes with the territory.

This week I’ll talk about a few ways I’ve changed in handling criticism.

Learn what you can from criticism.

In the early years, I reacted negatively to all criticism. I spent my energy defending rather than learning. Over time, rather than dismissing all critics, I opened my heart to learn from them. God has used several constructive and a few not-so-constructive critics to help me grow and improve as a spiritual shepherd and leader.

Rather than reacting defensively, it’s helpful to ask if there is anything truthful or helpful in criticism.

How have you learned and grown after receiving criticism?

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there are a total of15
  1. 1@roygeesey
    Jan 18, 2010 at 7:30 am

    So good Craig! As a young pastor I am trying hard to turn critics into my coaches and learn from them. The sad part is that it sometimes the people that are the most honest,?are people that are critical of me. While they may go about it wrong, a lot can be learned from their criticism…

  2. Jan 18, 2010 at 7:36 am

    I love your insights Craig.
    I have been in pastoral ministry now for 35 years! Can’t believe it’s been that long, but anyway, I have received my share of criticism. I learned a while back that the criticism is going to come no matter what. I would rather have it for moving forward than doing nothing. I also look at the message of the critic and see what I can learn from it. I remember one time in a former church where a person un-loaded both barrels and I was cut to the heart because he was right! I had to go to another person and ask for forgiveness for an attitude and treatment of that individual. That was a humbling experience, but a growing one for me.
    Looking forward to the rest of this week’s posts!

  3. Jan 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I look for threads of truth in the criticism. I want to get beyond the emotions. When appropriate I ask our staff to help me process the criticism to determine what/if any action is required to address the criticism. When I get personal criticism I always run it by sweet wife (gifts of dicernment and prophecy) and together we determine what action is required to address the criticism. I have found that left to my own I tend to want to fix the problem or validate myself. Involving someone I trust works best for me.

  4. Jan 18, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Truthfully, I am my worst critic and I am seeking God for DAILY refinement. Most days I can’t believe God doesn’t just say “OOPS” made a mistake with that one!!! LOL!! Thank GOD there is no “OOPS” in God’s vocabulary. His tolerance is amazing with all of us.

    When it comes to others… WHAT I learn depends on WHAT, WHO and HOW the criticism was dished out…I have learned to listen to what others have to say but also listen to the WHY they are saying it. Is it really to “help” me or “help” them feel better about themselves. Who is speaking? Is it a wise person or does this person fly off the handle at everyone, they just don’t like me, or do try to control all. How are they dishing their words out Godly anger or wordly (me me me) anger? Words are power. The “WORD” was first with God…That = power to me buddy. I somehow can usually hear the meaning behind the Tone!

    I think there needs to be a life course called..”So you want to lead? Choose your Fish bowl!” Leadership=fish bowl living…NOT EASY!

  5. Jan 18, 2010 at 9:11 am

    The early “you” was the early me. Still is to some extent, even though I am trying to change. My personality (Sanguine) does not handle criticism very well so it has been a real battle. But I have learned as I have matured that there is/can be a shred of truth in what people say. I need to find it and wipe out the rest. I once got wiped out by an anonymous letter. I now disregard it as cowardly but also look for a grain of any truth that I might learn from. Looking forward to this week’s posts.

  6. Jan 18, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I try to learn what I can from my critics. I have tried to remind myself that I can learn from both my fans and my critics but not if I listen too much to either.

  7. Jan 18, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I am stoked to read about this the upcoming week, because I am a young guy in the ministry. A little over a year ago someone gave us some criticism that at first deeply hurt us. But after realizing that they were sharing truth we knew what we had to do. I now look at criticism as “opportunities.” I understand that some will say things just to see our reactions, but others will say things because they care. When I get home typically I will sit down and ask myself, “Okay, they said this…what does God want me to learn here?”

  8. 8Dave
    Jan 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for posting the helpful side of criticism. As you hinted, “not all critics are helpful in the way they offer their opinions”. I learned over the weekend from somebody who has the courage to maintain a healthy relationship (keep short accounts) that there is another person in the body who has borne a grudge against me for eons. The person who approached me did not want to violate a confidence but wanted to be able to tell this “unknown critic” that I am open to confrontation and willing to bring resolution. I found myself second guessing my leadership by viewing everybody in the healthy person’s circle of friends as the possible unknown critic and wondering what I might have done to offend. I’m sure I can learn from the “unknown crtitic’s” observations and I very well may owe him/her an apology, but it doesn’t do anybody any good as long as I am unaware of it.

  9. Jan 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Criticism was difficult for me because of my insecurities. Once I realized that my response to criticism, constructive or destructive, was based on my character and security in Christ, everything changed. I now try to internalize criticism in a way that I become more proficient due to criticism that is aimed at my weaknesses. I try to look at it as a gift. And, if the criticism is just coming from someone who is bitter or hurting, I try to grow in Christ likeness by responding with love. It’s still not easy but it is more palatable.

  10. Jan 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    My struggle is not to lash out or be overly defensive, my struggle is that I believe them. I trust people too much so when they criticize me it consumes me at times.

    I have warned my kids for years that ministry is the most difficult, at times most unfair and often most criticized calling they could ever have! Of course they both seem to be heading that way! ha ha

    As I write this I am watching the bodies in Haiti being buried and once again my worry over criticism seems so trivial. What people think of me or of my work should never be what occupies my mind. Learning from those with something constructive to say - and then following God’s lead…this is my desire.

  11. Jan 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Dealing with criticism is tough, because sometime it can really hurt no matter what the heart is of the person that is giving it. Even at times when I believe that I am truly following the exact words of God, criticism still comes. That causes me to go before God even more. Sometimes he wants to show me new things. There are other times where he wants me to ignore the critics.

  12. 12david jarrett
    Jan 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    alot of good stories here, One way I would try to look at this if I were a pastor is the more bad critics that you get. Could be a sign that you are disrupting satans plan and he is doing all he can to disrupting Gods and Jesus plan. Our church is doing the sickness within series this week so envy and pride could also play a role in how you intake the critic also. As usuall my advise is code red! pray till your knees are red.

  13. 13Avery
    Jan 19, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Reminds me of David’s godly response to criticism…

    2Samuel 16:5-14

    David’s heart and trust in God is inspiring and aspiring for me…

    I long for the perspective he had towards God, and others,(including his critics)…

  14. Jan 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    [...] How Do You Handle Criticism? [...]

  15. Jan 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Realize that I am not good at receiving criticism. Recognize myself as the defending type. Guess I got someting to work on.