Have you ever experienced criticism from fellow Christians? How do you stand firm when you’re under fire from people you thought were supposed to support you?
In the next episode of ourFaith Series, we’re diving into the idea of standing firm in the face of criticism. Specifically, criticism from fellow Christians. Criticism is inevitable as a leader, so we hope to provide you with practical steps you can take when you come under fire.
What Criticism Looks Like
Sometimes we as Christians can be the most critical people. And I have to confess that I am guilty of this. I can easily point out when I feel like something isn’t being done the “right” way, or when I think someone should change an approach, etc.
But in preparing for this episode, I was reminded of why I want to work onnothaving a critical spirit.
Criticism is a type of feedback, but it has an inherently negative connotation to it. Thedefinition of criticismis: “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.”
If you are in leadership, you likely already know exactly what it’s like to receive criticism, and it never feels good.
Holly and I share some examples from our Facebook group about ridiculous ways our members have been criticized. It’s likely you can add something to the list we share as well.
We’re not saying that there is not a time and a place for confronting a brother or sister in Christ about a sin issue. We’ve discussed that on previous episodes, and I do believe there are times when criticism is warranted.
But in this conversation, we want to focus on how you can hold onto confidence when you experience criticism. First, though, let’s identify the types of criticism you could receive.
Different types of criticism you might experience:
Personal criticism: someone says something directly to you about something you did, said, believed, etc.
Public criticism: someone shared something publicly (in a group, on social media, etc) about something you did, etc.
Suspected criticism: you suspect someone is being critical of you based on their behavior or interactions towards you, but you have not actually heard or seen it.
Criticism by association: someone has criticized your business, ministry, or a group you’re involved with, but the criticism is not directed at you specifically.
How to Stand Firm in the Face of Criticism:
Holly and I go through 6 things you can do to help you deal with the criticism you might receive as a leader.
1. Start with the truth
Identify what you know is true about God, about yourself (gifts, skills, calling), and about the world.
Start with knowing that you are loved by God, no matter what. You cannot be an effective leader if you do not believe this. And you will not be able to withstand criticism if your value is rooted in something outside of Him.
Next, it’s important to determine where the criticism is coming from. It is someone who is close to you, or someone who is consistently negative? Or is it someone who rarely speaks up or complains?
The source of the criticism will help you to determine how to respond.
3. Consider the content of the criticism
Okay, so now let’s get into what was actually said or done. What type of criticism was it? Because this may affect how you respond. Ask yourself whether there was truth in the criticism and whether it was criticism about something you did or about who you are.
As we discussed onlast week’s episode with Kadi Cole, sometimes we create our own sticky floors, and the way we perceive criticism is based on our own insecurity. As leaders, it’s important that we make sure we are not looking for things to be offended about.
4. Consider your motives and intentions
Next it’s important to look at where you are at currently. Have you been struggling, feeling discouraged or defeated? This could affect how you deal with criticism.
Also, if you can evaluate your intentions in the situation, you may find out that there was something you were expecting or anticipating… and maybe it was based in pride.
5. Consider that it might not be about you or the other person
It’s important to recognize that spiritual warfare is real, and that the criticism you are experiencing may be a spiritual attack.
Ephesians 6:10-17 reminds us that:
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
There is a spiritual battle going on.
You need to put on your spiritual armor so that you can stand firm.
6. Take action
Okay so after you have done ALL of the above, now you can respond to the criticism. You may want to do one of two things: Don’t respond or respond.
Don’t respond Maybe this isn’t a battle you need to fight. Sometimes staying silent is the best option. We see examples of that in scripture, with Jesus as our number one example.
Scriptures referenced: Matthew 27:11-14 and 1 Peter 2:23
Another possibility is that you need to take a break to heal, reflect, or get help.
However, it’s possible you do need to respond to the criticism. If it’s from someone you are in an ongoing relationship with, and you want to maintain a healthy relationship, you may need to address the situation.
If you do respond to the criticism, it’s important to do so with gentleness and respect.
Scriptures referenced: Proverbs 15:1 and James 1:19-20
What not to do when you experience criticism:
1. Don’t stop saying hard things.
As leaders, we will say hard things. We will go against the grain. We will speak up about topics that most people want to avoid.
Just because we receive criticism does not mean we should STOP doing what we are doing. In fact, it’s probably a sign that we are on the right track.
2. Don’t forsake the fellowship.
Don’t allow the actions of people to tear you away from the church. It’s easy to allow being hurt by Christians in church as a reason to not continue being part of a church community. But in the long run, this will only hurt you, not help you.
Scripture referenced: Hebrews 10:25
We know that as leaders we will experience criticism--it’s inevitable. And while we would love it if you never experience criticism from fellow believers, we know that it will likely happen. We hope that the points we have provided will help if and when criticism from Christians comes your way.
“You cannot withstand criticism if your value is rooted in something outside of God.” - Esther Littlefield
“As leaders, we should not be looking for reasons to be offended.” - Esther Littlefield
“If there’s one thing that gets us off track the fastest, it’s Christians fighting against each other.” - Holly Cain
“If you’re only saying things that everybody agrees with, you’re never actually saying anything of longstanding importance.” - Esther Littlefield
“Don’t stop saying the hard things. Fill them with even more love, and even more grace, and even more truth, but don’t stop saying them.” - Holly Cain
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