If you are like me, you enjoy being around people who have a "can-do" encouraging attitude. My personality type and spiritual gifting goes well with others who don't whine and complain about everything in this world.
As a student pastor for the past 10 years, I have received a lot of feedback. Some criticism (at times it was what I needed) and some encouragement. I tend to remember more of the criticism than I do the encouragement. If you are reading this and you aren't a student pastor, you are a leader where God has placed you. I want to take a few minutes to share how I try to respond to encouragement and criticism as a leader.
Responding to Criticism:
1) Pray and ask God for wisdom. In the moment of frustration or hurt, always lean on God. My prayers have ranged from, "God, why are they saying this? Don't they see how wrong they are!" or "God, please help me respond with grace and truth."
2) When you are criticized, thank the person for the feedback. By showing that you are secure in Christ and not defensive, it will help disarm the person from a debate or argument. As difficult as it can be to reveal that you value their input, it helps to build humility as a leader. Let them know your hope is to be as effective as you can for God's kingdom.
3) Stand firm on God's leading. We should thank people for their input but that doesn't mean that we try to please every person with a critique. Follow God's direction as a leader and don't budge for each person with an opinion. Be humble and focus upon God's direction and blessings in every leadership decision. Don't expect people to change their opinions. If you are under authority of your boss/leader and they back you up, continue doing what God has called you to do for Him.
4) Allow correction to change your character. Listening to someone's criticism or critique in a healthy, God-honoring way can help you grow. It helps us to be reminded that we are human and make mistakes. It helps us to rely on the Holy Spirit. Allow the tough times to mold you into the character of Jesus.
5) Trust in God's defining love for you. Criticism doesn't need to define you. Jesus defines you. Keep your eyes fixed on His love for you despite what people say in and outside of the church.
What tips do you have about responding to criticism?