Keeping Critics in Perspective

Practically everyone in your church tells you that they loved the sermon, Sunday school lesson, special music, or the new logo.

Practically everyone…

And then one or two people will offer some piece of criticism. They may not even have to say it. You can see it on their face as they shake your hand and file out.

It never fails… when you’re sitting at your desk or laying in bed at night—that’s the voice you hear.

When you go to write the next sermon, prepare the next lesson, select the next song, or design the next project—that’s the voice you hear.

There is always a fine line to walk when it comes to criticism. We can—and should—ignore some criticism. Some people don’t have all the facts. Some criticism is a gut-level response and not well thought out. Some feedback is based on personal preferences or prejudices.

At the same time, just because a voice is in the minority doesn’t mean it is invalid. Perhaps it is we and the 99% who support us who are the ones without the full facts. Or some part of who we are and our experience makes it hard to see the issue through the critic’s eyes.

For these reasons, dismissing all criticism is as unhealthy and unhelpful as allowing it to paralyze us.

United Methodist Bishop Ken Carter offers an image to keep in mind that helps keep critics and their feedback in perspective. He says to call to mind the old church pictorial directory. And then remember this truth:

No one gets a full page.

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