How To Handle Criticism

by | Jan 29, 2012 | Church Leadership, Church Planting

Somebody once told me that if people were talking about me, they were leaving someone else alone.  Somehow that never consoled me.  And if I heard that my husband was being criticized, rightly or wrongly, it drove me crazy.

People come to a church plant with differing expectations.  If these expectations are not met, rumblings may begin.  When things are going well and the church is increasing, critics are usually silent.  But, when a leveling off or slight decline happens, watch out, because the knives get sharpened and they become emboldened.

So, what do you do when you or your husband are being criticized?

If it’s about you:

1.  Evaluate it, make corrections when necessary and put it behind you.  Don’t try to justify it.  Ecc.7:21, “Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, lest you hear your servant cursing you.”  And read Spurgeon’s sermons to his students entitled, “One blind eye, one deaf ear.”

One Pastor told us that he had a brick thrown though his widow at home with a note tied to that said, “Get out,” – protesting a projected move of the church to another area.  Another Pastor was denied the use of the fellowship hall for his daughter’s wedding – they didn’t like some of his sermons.  And several have returned from vacation only to find that they’ve been voted out of a job.  It only takes a few activists to stir up the mildly disaffected.

If it’s your husband:

1. Make sure that whatever you do, you do not take matters into your own hands.  I can give this advice with authority because I did this – one time.

It was in our first church plant.  I’d heard that a woman was gossiping and spreading rumors about my husband.  I waited until my husband was taking a nap and drove over to her home.  I confronted her with the situation and left her with the comment that someone should cut her telephone cord.  Then I went home to face the music.  Needless to say, they left the church.  I’ll say no more.

2.  If the criticism is legitimate, and your husband is wrong, don’t try to correct him.  You are not the Holy Spirit in your husband’s life, nor are you his Mother.  There are some things your husband must learn on his own and God may use many ways and means to make him into the person He wants him to be.  It is not your role in life to shape him.  You can and should give advice, but when he makes a decision, he must live with it and hopefully learn from it.

There may come a time when a gossip needs to be confronted; then biblical discipline may need to follow.  However, if God can shut the mouths of lions, he can stop gossiping people, so pray for those who persecute you & toughen up, we’re in a battle.

Also, keep an eye out for my husband’s (Phil Spry) new book on Amazon, “Gossip”- “When Church Chat Goes Bad.” I know it will be helpful because over 4,000 folks have downloaded his sermon on which the book is based.

P.S. – Have you seen the free stuff yet at churchplantingsupersite.com?

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Toni Spry

Toni Spry is the co-author of the bestselling book, The Fulfilled Woman. She has spoken at women’s conferences, retreats, and Bible studies, and has a special burden for teaching and discipling Christian women. She has been involved in 8 church plants, lived in 5 states, and traveled internationally to minister. Read More About Toni Spry At Her Author Page