Lutheran Church Extension Fund


Reading time: two minutes. Another favorite wellness quote of mine comes from Stuart Briscoe’s list of qualifications to be a pastor.  “He must have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros.”  That’s excellent advice.  Anyone who takes up a prominent position in public leadership is open to criticism, and any pastor who’s been around the block a few times knows that the church has plenty of critics looking for an opening to take a shot. Criticism can be constructive or destructive and how we receive it (read: how thick our skin is!) determines what we’re able to learn from it, or how we’re able to deal with it and move on. Here are a couple of suggestions for how to respond to criticism. 1. Don’t take it personally.  When you get feedback from someone who disagrees with you on some matter, remember that they are telling you something about themselves, not necessarily something about you.  If the majority is happy with the hymn selection, the VBS curriculum, your shoes, or the volume of the youth choir, the critic is stating their own, personal opinion about the topic.  It’s not a personal attack. Some of the best advice I ever got for ministry was from Martin Scharlemann who taught us to “Remember Rule 6,” which, if you don’t know, reads, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”  Take the gospel seriously.  Take people’s problems seriously.  But remember your baptismal identity, as a fallen and imperfect sinner who is perfectly loved by the Father in heaven. If everyone has a problem with your shoes, pay attention.  If only one person does, try to discern, “What am I discovering about what’s going on inside of her?” 2. Pray.  None of us are good at handling criticism.  Ask for the Spirit’s gifts of patience, wisdom, discernment and peace.  Try to be at your best, most self-differentiated self when handling criticism, remembering that the most mature among us are, on a scale of 1-100, operating at a level of about 40 on the maturity, healthy self-concept scale.  Rely on the One who set the standard for maturity when handling His critics. 3. Find the kernel of truth.  Church members are quick to criticize because they are passionate about their faith, the Lord’s work and their church.  You’ll never receive criticism from someone who doesn’t care. Some church members don’t express themselves well.  Emotions run high among passionate people.  It can be difficult to cut through the histrionics to get at the kernel of truth in what they have to say, but it might be worth the effort.  They might have an insight you could learn from.  They might even have a legitimate complaint! Ask yourself, “Why does this person feel so strongly about this topic?  How can this passion be directed into a positive solution or a ministry endeavor?”  You might even be bold enough to ask the critic the same thing! In the meantime, I’ll be praying for your Rhino-Skin. Thanks for reading. Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities.  Let’s have a conversation about bringing our Church Worker Retreat to your area soon!