i loved this post by Fields on criticism today. i pasted an excerpt below, but head there for the rest!
Working in the church for 29 years has brought me face-to-face with all types of criticism. In my early years of ministry people actually had to be intentional with their criticism because it usually required writing and mailing letters. Today, email allows critical people instant access to attack your heart.
Here’s how I typically respond to the shots that are directed at me. I tried to put these in a sequential order, but it’s not always this nice and tidy. Here you go:
1. I feel it
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “You’ve got to have the skin of a rhino and the heart of a lamb to be in ministry.” When I was younger I thought, “Well, I definitely don’t have rhino (thick) skin…maybe I’ll grow thick skin over the years. Thirty years later I still don’t have thick skin–criticism stings! I hate it. I’m sure that people who are more spiritually mature than me can easily shake it off…I can’t. I feel it…I feel it all the time. There you go…I’m a sensitive baby.
2. I reduce it
One of the ways I reduce criticism is by thinking about something I call the “10% factor.” It goes like this: “At any given time, 10% of my audience is not going to like me.” It doesn’t matter what I do, there are going to be people who don’t know my heart, my motives, my story, etc… They are going to be negative no matter what. So, on a given weekend when I was regularly preaching to 20,000 at Saddleback Church—that’s 2,000 people who aren’t going to like me or what I have to say (that’s a mega-church of haters). Another way to state this might be: I expect criticism. I know it’s coming.
3. I ignore it
If criticism is anonymous, I delete and/or throw it away immediately—100% of the time. If people don’t have the guts to put their name to it, they don’t deserve to have a voice into my life. Now, if the criticism comes in from someone who signs their name (and I don’t know them), I’ll usually read it. And, depending on the tone I perceive, I may/may not respond. It’s usually a neutered response like “thanks for the input.”
5. I write a gut-response draft
If a criticism wounds me (like from a co-worker or a boss or someone who really surprises me with stinging words) I’ll often write a draft response just to help me process my hurt and my anger. Some of these are gems! If I ever sent this response it would embarrass me, my family, and friends if it was ever public. Obviously, I never send the draft, but the writing is often cathartic.
9. I respond to it
Usually by the time I respond to the criticism the sting is gone (and so is my pride). I often go the neutral/polite approach and respond in a way that won’t trigger a fury of more emails. An example might be: “Thank you for taking the time to give me feedback.” Short. Simple. Non-engaging. The problem with email is that it’s so difficult to communicate tone…so, I personally try to avoid email banter at all costs.
10. I delete it
Bottom line here is that I don’t like to keep it in my inbox or on my desk because I don’t want to see it again. When I keep it around, in some ways, I nurse criticism. I think about it more than I should. After I’ve dealt with it, I delete it. I don’t need to keep it around because I know there’s another one coming soon.