Three Ways I’ve Learned to Deal With Critics and Criticism

Any leader worth their salt is well familiar with criticism. For leaders the question isn’t, “Will I be criticized?” but rather, “How will I respond when criticized?” I’ve certainly faced my fair share of criticism in my leadership journey, of both the constructive and destructive sort. While I wish I could say I’ve always handled it well, the truth is I haven’t. Even after countless hours spent learning about the value of criticism and knowing all sorts of Biblical texts that speak directly to the need to heed wise and godly rebuke by heart, criticism still has a way of getting under my skin in the worst possible way.

Recently, about a week after receiving some helpful criticism from one of our lay leaders, I realized that I’ve settled into a repeated process of dealing with criticism. While this process is by no means perfect, it has been healthy for me to learn to walk through, and I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of my own journey with you on this issue. Perhaps you’ll see some of your own journey reflected as you read. So here goes. I’ve learned that I’m responding best to criticism when I (in order) get angry, get processing, and get better.

Three Ways People Pleasing Makes You Miserable

I once heard a leader reflect that if you want to be liked by everyone all you’ve got to do is stand for nothing, say nothing, and do nothing. Unfortunately for those of us committed to making a difference in our world that’s just not possible. Leaders by definition are people of intense belief and committed action, otherwise you’re just not leading!

What I’m getting at here is one of the most fundamental truths of leadership there is. Namely, that if you’re a leader not everyone is going to like you. It’s one of the most difficult, yet most important realities of leading to accept, but coming to do so is necessary because a failure to will doom your leadership for these three reasons.