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.

  • Invited criticism: Scheduled or regular evaluation and review by one or more people in one or more area of ministry
  • Uninvited criticism: Regular or one-off by people whose opinion you did not ask for
  • Justified criticism: Accurate reflection of the truth
  • Unjustified criticism: Inaccurate, false, untrue, imbalanced
  • Constructive criticism: For my good and to help me to become better at what I do
  • Destructive criticism: To discourage, damage, dishearten, demoralize, and diminish me
  • Sensitive criticism: Expressed with love, wisdom, balance
  • Insensitive criticism: Insensitive tone, content, situation
  • Backstabbing criticism: Cowardly undermining of you and your ministry in your absence (although probably intended to get back to you via “carriers”)

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.