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No matter the role you are leading in you are  going to face criticism. Some criticism is good-it is constructive, truthful, and has good intentions. Relish this kind of criticism in your ministry.

Some criticism is unequivocally bad criticism. It is destructive, not based 100% in truth, and is based in bad intentions. Prepare yourself for this kind of criticism.

Whether it is a critique of your sermon 5 minutes after you preached it, or a critique of an event 5 minutes after you lead it, or a personal attack on you, your family, or your church this criticism can pull us into the depths of despair.

But there are positive ways we can respond to negative criticism. I believe responding in these ways can help anyone relieve the burden caused by unwanted and bad criticism as well as help and minister to those who are broken and dishing out this bad criticism.

Here are 3 positive ways to respond to negative criticism:

Find the Hidden Truth

This is a difficult task, but much criticism, yes even destructive criticism can be traced to a constructive or truthful nugget of information. Maybe the criticism was “Pastor your sermon would have been so much better  if it was 15 minutes shorter.” Now, there is nothing constructive about this criticism 5 minutes after you preached the sermon, but maybe the nugget of truth is you need to find a way to cut some fluff from your sermon.

Find the Broken Person

A lot of destructive criticism comes from a broken and toxic person. Maybe they are broken because they are toxic-or maybe they are toxic because they are broken. Either way extend grace in situations of unwanted and bad criticism.

Defend Yourself… Kindly

Maybe you casually brush off bad criticism and never confront those who do it to you. This might not be the best path to take. Obviously, a shouting match or heated discussion in the foyer right after service might not be the best place to defend yourself. But, maybe offer to take the person to lunch or offer them 30 minutes on Tuesday to discuss their criticism, why it hurts, and why it is unnecessary.

Bad criticism is something none of us want. It is frustrating, disheartening, and discouraging. But in the bad criticism we can find a way to help ourselves and help the person giving the bad criticism.

What do you think?

Joe Hoagland is the preaching pastor at Pleasant View Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, Ohio. He is newly married to his awesome wife Jenna, and together they have a spoiled little Chihuahua-Cocker Spaniel puppy named Yoda. Joe loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God's word. You can oftentimes find Joe hiking, camping, writing or enjoying technology (Android over iOS, Windows over OS X).

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Mike Brenneman

commented on Mar 1, 2021

Thank-you Joe. The main idea I received from you is to turn a negative situation in a positive one and Glorify God by doing so. Your advice to take them out to lunch and explore the issue, is excellent. Even when criticism is faulty it is so important to be kind as you mentioned. Some preachers are not, even when the criticism is true and gentle. God is also glorified when we remain calm and un-threatened. (It's implied in your article, but worth mentioning) Who knows, we may turn an antagonist into a friend. Keep up the good work! Mike Brenneman, Sumner church of Christ

Mike Brenneman

commented on Mar 1, 2021

1 more thought. Here's some excellent advice apostle Paul gave Timothy, a preacher. 2 Tim 2:24-26

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