The most effective preachers and teachers have an ability to make the profound simple.
Tony Schwartz says that such “deceptive simplicity” is the result of:
And Schwartz persuasively argues that one of the keys to achieving this is a to-do list.
If that doesn’t entice you to click through, then try this:
So, you’ve prepared for the criticism, you’ve distinguished the nature of the critic and their criticism, but now you have to respond. Will you be gored, injured, or with a flourish of your cape will you let the bull pass by and learn from the experience? How you deal with criticism will determine the whole course of your ministry.
Four steps to avoid
Reject: without a moment’s thought you simply dismiss the criticism, minimize it, and move on
Retaliate: again, often without even a pause, you attack the attacker or criticize the critic
Resent: while you may seem to accept what was said, you inwardly seethe and bitterly brood
Resign: you just give in, give up and run away
Four steps to follow
1. Receive the criticism
Whether it comes in verbal or written form, the first thing to do is pray for grace to listen to what is being said. If the person is in front of you, pray inwardly, look them in the eye, project calm, avoid hostile body language or facial expressions, and ask for time to think and pray about what is being said.
You may want to clarify the complaint by re-stating or re-phrasing it just to make sure you both understand the problem. Give a rough idea of when you plan to respond (within a week, say), and ask him/her what action they would like to see in response to their complaint.
End by thanking the person for coming to you in person and pray together. In your prayer set the specific complaint in the context of a wider relationship and experience of the Lord’s blessing.
2. Reflect on the criticism
Questions to prayerfully ask include:
Sometimes it might be worth seeking advice, getting a second opinion from a trusted elder, fellow pastor, or friend, someone a bit more objective than yourself. Maybe also ask them to hold you to account as you respond to the person and relate to them in the future.
3. Respond to the Criticism
In your response, try to think of building a long-term relationship. It is easy to win a short-term victory but lose a long-term opportunity to do a person spiritual good.
If at all possible, meet in person rather than respond by email or telephone. Pray together then calmly explain what aspects of the criticism you accept (for which you thank him), and what you don’t. If you have admitted that you were wrong, explain how you plan to apologize to offended parties and put things right. In very extreme circumstances it may be appropriate to offer your resignation. Ask if your response is satisfactory. Close with prayer, asking the Lord to bless your relationship, not let the devil in, and grow in mutual love and respect.
4. Repent of your error/sin
When a matador is injured, he will review film of the incident, learn from his mistake, and put things right for the future. Likewise the pastor should respond not just by accepting he said or did something wrong, but also by putting things right for the future. Repentance does not just include sorrow for sin, but turning from it to new obedience in dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
Here's the eighth in our preview series of ten films on the Old Testament appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. This week we look at Christ's appearance to Samson's parents in Judges 13.
The first two videos will be permanently available online. (Episode 1, Episode 2). The remaining episodes will be released once a week for the next seven weeks. Each of them will be available for online viewing for seven days.
In our first podcast since my health problems, Tim and I talk about the massive lessons the Lord has begun to teach me through these tumultuous weeks.
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Just as the matador prepares for the bullring, so the pastor must prepare for criticism. But the matador also has to distinguish between different bulls. He observes them from a distance and close up. He sees how they interact with other bulls and how they react to other matadors. He analyzes their character and anticipates their attacks. Some bulls are very aggressive and determined to kill, others treat it like more of a game, while still others treat the matador with the utmost respect. The matador’s strategy will be determined by the nature of the bulls and the nature of their “attacks.”
Likewise the pastor has to carefully distinguish between different kinds of critics and different elements of their criticism.
If you have prepared for the criticism and analyzed its various elements, you are then in a position to respond. Click back tomorrow for that.