13 May Dealing with Criticism as a Leader: Part 4
To lose sight of your calling, become emotional and carry a short fuse signify a leader who is fatigued or faced with criticism. Anyone in a prominent position, in any type of leadership, is going to receive criticism by the bucketful. It comes with the job. And while criticism naturally hurts, it’s wonderful for growth. But what if the critique is misplaced or destructive? I’ve developed 12 tips from my time as a pastor and leader in other arenas. Hopefully these will help you face criticism well!
- Know when you and others are fatigued. When you’re fatigued everything is magnified. You’re too tired to deal with anything and your emotions are wiped out. That tiredness can cause you to want to run. When you’re truly fatigued, you have no spiritual or emotional resources to deal with issues. Even the smallest anthill begins to look like a mountain because you don’t have the strength to even go over the ant hill. Usually if you’re fatigued, you start dealing with everything at a felt need level rather than an actual need level. If an issue comes up and your’e fatigued, you might have a short fuse and will overreact. You end up handling the issue out of frustration instead of wisdom. And sometimes the people you are leading or dealing with are fatigued as well. So not only do you react on a short fuse, but they react on a short fuse. It’s important to understand what level of fatigue people are at. Back when I was pastoring, there was a worship leader who worked with us for several years. And I stated noticing a trend of him attempting to resign a couple of times each year. After two years of receiving his resignation letters, I finally figured it out. He was fatigued. He became exhausted after Easter and Christmas celebrations, but would perk up three weeks out. So I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to give you 3 weeks off with pay.” We just automatically counted him out for the two weeks after Easter and the three weeks after Christmas. I didn’t hold it against him. I just made sure to give him time to rest.
- Make sure you are around enough positive people. I once had something happen to me that was pretty negative. It had to do with the building and tenants we managed. About an hour later, a friend of mine called. We talked for a long time. When I got through talking to him I felt a whole lot better about the situation. He was removed from the location and able to see some things objectively. He encouraged me and refocused me onto the positive things in my life! As a leader constantly faced with criticism, it is so necessary to have a small group of people who can turn the light on. For me, a huge source of positive energy in my life is my wife Becky. She is able to refocus me onto the positive. Without people like this in your life, you can feel alone and lost in a dark tunnel. Find your light.
- Don’t lose sight of your goal or your calling. Don’t let criticism steal from you and your calling in life. Years ago, the Southern Baptist denomination issued a statistic on their pastors. And that statistic said that over 50% of their pastors were quitting the ministry permanently. Over 50%! My encouragement to you as a leader is don’t lose sight of your calling because somebody is criticizing you. You criticize yourself enough. When you start listening to other people and blowing up the seriousness of what they’re saying, you may lose sight of your calling. If someone is questioning your aptitude entirely and you know you’re where God’s called you, then hold fast. Remember that God knows best and keep focused on your goal.
The greatest lessons I ever learned about criticism were from other people who were in leadership. People can be vicious. And as a leader, you’re going to be criticized. It doesn’t matter what you try to do – you’re going to get criticized. Your adult kids one day are going to criticize you. Those little precious 4 and 5 year olds are one day going to grow up and tell you you don’t know anything! Criticism happens. That’s why, as a leader, you need to learn how to brush criticism off and identify when to take it seriously.
I hope this brief study on criticism helps you out! Share your stories and insights in the comment section below!
Join me each Friday for tips on leadership and personal development.