Advice for Dealing with Criticism

heart of a servant leader

By Bob Pittenger

I am so thankful for those who are willing to step up and lead. Regardless of whether it is a paid or volunteer position, leading a dozen or thousands, or public or behind closed doors, we must have leaders who are willing to be the target of criticism. Leadership is never easy. There will always be spectators sitting on the sidelines telling everyone who will listen how it could have been done better. It may not be right, but that is the life of a leader.

So, if you are a leader of any kind THANK YOU! Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for having a passionate vision that will not allow you to sit idly hoping that someone else will rise up and meet the challenge. Thanks for giving of yourself for the benefit of others, the team, the organization, or the Kingdom of God. Thanks for working to the point of exhaustion because more than anything else you want to make a difference. THANKS!!!!

During my morning devotion I read a great post by Dr. Chuck Swindoll on dealing with criticism. So, I want to share his post with you as a way of saying thanks to all our great leaders out there. I hope you find this as comforting and encouraging as did I.

Swindoll writes:

Looking for a role model on how to handle criticism? It would be worth your while to check out the book of Nehemiah. On several occasions this great-hearted statesman was openly criticized, falsely accused, and grossly misunderstood. Each time he kept his cool . . . he rolled with the punch . . . he considered the source . . . he refused to get discouraged . . . he went to God in prayer . . . he kept building the wall (Nehemiah 2:19–20; 4:1–5).

One of the occupational hazards of being a leader is receiving criticism (not all of it constructive, by the way). In the face of that kind of heat, there’s a strong temptation to “go under,” “throw in the towel,” “bail out.” Many have faded out of leadership because of intense criticism. I firmly believe that the leader who does anything that is different or worthwhile or visionary can count on criticism.

Along this line, I appreciate the remarks made by the fiery president of a past generation, Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

To those words I add a resounding amen.

A sense of humor is of paramount importance to the leader. Many of God’s servants are simply too serious! There are at least two tests we face that determine the extent of our sense of humor:

the ability to laugh at ourselves

the ability to take criticism

Believe me, no leader can continue effectively if he or she fails these tests! Equally important, of course, is the ability to sift from any criticism that which is true, that which is fact. We are foolish if we respond angrily to every criticism. Who knows, God may be using those words to teach us some essential lessons, painful though they may be.

Isn’t this what Proverbs 27:5–6 is saying?

Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

And let me call to your attention the word friend in these verses. Friendship is not threatened but strengthened by honest criticism. But—when you are criticized by one who hardly knows you, filter out what is fact . . . and ignore the rest!

Nehemiah did that . . . and he got the wall built.

Source: Insight.org

Thanks for the Sacrifice!

I am thankful for the soldiers who serve to defend freedom’s cause all around the world. I am thankful for your willingness to leave home, family, and safety behind to put your life on the line for others. I am also thankful for the sacrifice that is made by your families. They endure months and sometimes years of separation from you during tours of duty, they often have to move from town-to-town, plus the added stress of worrying about your safety while you are in harm’s way.

Throughout the years I have seen families recognized in special ways; however, this tribute by a soldier to his wife and kids is one of the most special moments I have been blessed to witness. A special thanks to the University of South Carolina and the 85,000 fans in attendance for recognizing the Faile family!

Happy Mother’s Day

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. She is like  merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She  rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes  coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known  in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes  linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and  dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She  opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31.10-31 NASB)

Worship With Thankful Hearts

I hope everyone reading this is making plans to attend church with your fellow Christians to worship the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we gather together it should be a time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.  It is through His death, burial, and resurrection that we are able to be forgiven, justified, and sanctified.  Therefore, I pray this Lord’s Day finds you with a thankful heart.

Here are a few verses from the Psalms that reveal the heart of true worshippers when they gather together mindful of all the Lord’s heavenly gifts.  Happy Lord’s Day!

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him,[and] bless His name. (Ps. 100:4) 

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Ps. 69:30) 

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Ps. 95:2) 

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! … [4] Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, [and] bless His name. (Ps. 100:1, 4) 

Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing. (Ps. 107:22) 

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD. (Ps. 116:17) 

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.(Ps. 18:49) 

Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name…To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Ps. 30:4, 12) 

I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.    (Ps. 35:18) 

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare [that] Your name is near. (Ps. 75:1) 

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations. (Ps. 79:13) 

[It is] good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High…(Ps. 92:1) 

Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. (Ps. 97:12) 

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for [He is] good! For His mercy [endures] forever. (Ps. 106:1) 

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for [He is] good! For His mercy [endures] forever.       (Ps. 107:1) 

Father, we worship and glorify You this morning with hearts thankful for all the ways You demonstrate Your love toward us.  Thank You, Father!

All Bible quotes are taken from the New King James Version.

Thanks!

It is hard for me to believe that we are starting a new year. It was just seven, short, years ago today that I preached my first message as Senior Pastor of Living Oaks Baptist Church. There have been many challenges during that time; however, the joy of seeing many come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ has been well worth every one. During the last seven years, we have grown from a pastor and his congregation into one great big family.

We have had members of our LOBC family move away, while others have graduated to glory. We have seen our young adults become great leaders by following the examples set by many of our senior adults. We have watched as the first group of infants began to crawl, then walk, and now they are all in second grade, and many of those have become Christians.

Over the last few years, we have moved away from many programs that were focused on our entertainment in order to reach those outside our family. We shared our food, clothes, smiles, and hugs with those who were in need. We have purchased chicks; ducks; goats; and fresh, well water for those in other countries. We have adopted an elementary school and provided them with back-packs, school supplies, and fed them for “Meet the Teacher” night.

Over the last seven years, we have been compelled by love to share with others that love which we received from Christ Jesus Himself. Because of this, I want to say “Thank You!” to my church family. I love you and look forward to all God has for us in 2012!

Once again, THANKS!