Getting criticized when you’re trying to serve the Lord and be a witness of Him to others is never fun.
God is leading you through your ministry and you feel His call for you to serve in this way but the naysayers can get in your head like the ugly devil on your shoulder. Sometimes it can be super tough to shake.
Facing criticism for anyone, whether in ministry or not can be tough, but it’s important to remember that you CAN continue serving, cling to God’s Word, and let the attacks roll off you like water off a duck’s back with these great tips of how to handle criticism in your ministry.
How To Handle Criticism In Your Ministry
Being on the receiving end of criticism is never easy especially through the course of your ministry when your primary objective is to glorify God. Why?
Because any Christian knows that we are sinners, saved by grace alone and that as hard as we try and as fast as we run to be the godly people Jesus wants us to be (Hebrews 12:1-3), we fail.
Oftentimes, we can be our own worst critic and the devil will use that against us to try to bring us down. He doesn’t want anyone glorifying God or serving in Jesus’ name, so he will use anyone or anything to get you to fall.
Thankfully, God’s will in your ministry is thriving and He will continue to help you withstand those attacks (Psalm 37:24).
1) Pray about it
It can be really tough when we feel like we’re under attack or when we’re being criticized. It’s easy to get defensive and to start lashing out in return. But before we do anything, it’s always a good idea to pray. We can ask God for wisdom in how to handle the situation, and for the person who is criticizing us; we can pray that God will bless them.
When we take a step back and pray, it allows us to see the situation from a different perspective. We can remember that the person who is attacking us is also made in God’s image, and that they deserve our prayers just as much as anyone else. By taking a moment to pray, we can often diffuse a difficult situation and find a way to move forward.
If that doesn’t help, pray that God help you see the person through His eyes. He loves everyone and wishes none to perish (2 Peter 3:9). Whatever you do, do not respond right away until you get your heart and thoughts aligned with Him, and in many cases, you don’t need to respond at all!
2) Don’t take it personally
When you’re in ministry, it’s easy to take criticism personally. After all, your ministry is an extension of yourself, and it can be hurtful to hear someone say negative things about it. However, it’s important to remember when you’re practicing how to handle criticism that not all criticism is directed at you as a person, but rather at your message. Sometimes even at the words you used or the way you said something!
If someone is attacking you because you are a Christian or because you’re speaking about God, then the insult or attack is not really at you, but at God.
We treat others how we treat God, so if someone is belittling you or being mean to you, they are really belittling and being mean to Christ. It’s Christ in you that is under attack. It’s Him, not you, so you don’t have to take it personally. And what does the Bible say about attacks? Here are some verses…
- 2 Timothy 3:12-13
- John 15:19–20
- Matthew 5:10–12
- 1 Peter 4:12–14
Try to see it from the other person’s perspective and take what they’re saying constructively. It can be helpful to ask yourself if there’s any truth to what they’re saying, and if so, how you can improve. Remember that the more successful your ministry is, the more you’ll have critics, so don’t let negative feedback get you down. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
In my ministry, believe it or not, I PRAY for trolls so I can change. Oftentimes, our friends and loved ones will NOT tell us the truth. Maybe they don’t see it, or maybe they do and they just don’t want to mention it. How can we grow as people if they are not telling us how things REALLY are?
It’s much better to receive a harsh word from a loved and cherished friend (Proverbs 27:17), than from a troll, but trolls can be effective too, because they say it like it is, no holds barred style. That can come in handy because we all have blind spots and it can help us grow into a more godly person.
3) Seek wise counsel
It can be difficult to see things clearly when we are in the middle of a situation. Our emotions can cloud our judgment and make it hard to see what is really going on. That’s why it’s so important to seek wise counsel from a trusted friend or mentor. They can help us to see things that we might be missing and give us an outside, unattached perspective.
This can be especially helpful when we are facing a difficult decision. By talking to someone who knows us well, we can gain valuable insight and clarity about what we should do next. So if you’re feeling lost or confused, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It could be just what you need to get back on track.
4) Don’t be defensive
It can be really tough how to handle criticism when someone comes at you with an accusation or a complaint. It’s easy to feel like you need to put up a wall and defend yourself. But more often than not, this just makes the situation worse.
Instead of getting defensive, try to listen to what the other person is saying and try to understand it from their point of view. You can be disagreeable and still maintain respect.
As long as they aren’t criticizing the Bible or going against God’s word, listen to see if there is any merit to what they are saying. Keep in mind that people oftentimes say things that sound confident when they’re really trying to see if what they believe is true.
If you end up responding, be sure to explain to them in easy-to-understand language if they’re not correct, and why what they’re saying might not be helpful or accurate. Respond with grace after having stepped back and prayed about the situation thoroughly.
5) Don’t gossip
We all receive criticism at some point in our lives, and it can be tempting to want to tell our friends or loved ones about it, to either vent or help our egos brush off the pain of the insult. However, this can quickly turn into gossip, which can be damaging to both our relationships and our ministries. If we need to talk about the criticism we’re receiving, we should only do so with someone who can help us process it constructively. But that’s only *if* you absolutely need to tell someone.
If you aren’t able to keep it inside, tell your husband or best friend about it, but try to keep it neutral and make sure your heart is pure, not wanting to get back at the person who insulted you by slandering them. By doing this, we can avoid gossip and instead focus on ways to improve our ministries by focusing on the important things. You’ll also be able to maintain a positive outlook.
Criticism is never fun, but keep in mind that criticism is a part of life and can be useful to help us grow as Christian.