Posted by: naccm | October 20, 2010

Reacting to The Constant Critic – by Tim Hawkins

“Hey Tim, I don’t mean to be negative or critical, but…”

You’ve probably received an email like that, right?

Maybe the email laid into you personally or the ministry or one of your leaders…and maybe it didn’t even begin with an “I don’t mean to…” apology.

So, how do you handle the critic?  And that is probably not even the question.  Maybe the question is, “How do we handle the ‘constant critique’?”  Here are a few ideas, and please…feel free to add others in the comments.

1.  Don’t Respond by Email to Email Criticisms.

Most of us over-react to criticism and find ourselves immediately defensive or justifying.  Email gives critics a great forum to launch a grenade and take cover.  Most of our ability to communicate effectively is lost when we communicate without face-to-face interaction.  DO Call the student and make an appointment to talk face-to-face.

2.  Don’t Pass Around the Criticism

Another way we give traction to criticizers is making the issue bigger than it is by advertising the critique.  Even if we don’t use the students name, our asking around validates the criticism.  I’m not saying we don’t take criticism seriously, but we should be cautious in our investigation. DO talk to 1 or 2 student leaders in confidentiality.

3.  Don’t Be Afraid to Disfellowship

Most university campuses have numerous campus ministries, if yours is intolerable for the student ask if you can help them find another ministry that would better suit their needs.  DO sit down with them and go through the options, however.  Our pastoral care, and discipleship means that we don’t send them adrift, but pass them along to someone’s care.

4.  Don’t Hide Mistakes

Occasionally our unwillingness to confess to mistakes makes us a target for criticism.  DO ask yourself if there is a singular issue at the root of all of this external criticism that has gone unaddressed and fostered the antagonism.

5.  Don’t Let it Go

The constant critique is like an infection, don’t let it go unchecked.  DO see this is an issue of discipleship.  Before almost every spring break trip I would have students put to memory Philippians 2:14.  It is easy to memorize…trust me…all of our staff and students should have it put to memory.

6.  Don’t Pass Along A Problem

If you find that a constant critique has finally jumped ship, don’t just celebrate the exodus.  DO get in contact with the director/leader of the other organization keeping the constant critic informed of your conversation.

7.  Pray.

Because the issue is one of discipleship and likely some past hurts, our we need discernment from God as to what the root issues are and how we can help.

I’ve been speaking here of the “constant critic”.

Not to be confused with well timed, trusted critique from people invested in us personally and our ministries.  We should always take those seriously and humbly.


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