It’s impossible to lead without getting criticized. Not only will you make mistakes, but people are often hurting badly and their criticism is an expression of their pain. Here’s a short list of what NOT to do when you get attacked:
Don’t blow it off right away. Take some time to think through what was said so that you can examine your life and leadership. Do you best to ignore HOW it was said, at least for the time being (return to that later to see if you need to address that specifically). Your goal is to uncover every possible learning. You want to be better, and that’ll never happen if you can’t learn how to learn through the painful critiques.
Don’t focus on it too much. It’s impossible to tell an angry person to “not be angry,” and that’s essentially what I’m saying here. Learn what you can and then move on. GET IN, GET OUT. Don’t live in the pain and don’t let it dominate your thinking. The best way to not think about something is to think about something else. Do something that makes you forget about ministry. Do some menial tasks or hard labor–busy hands can lay the mind to rest. Do something that clearly expresses your passion. Anyhow, speaking of anger:
Don’t bottle up your anger. You need a healthy way to express your thoughts and feelings. Develop the habit of journaling if you haven’t done so already. Talk to a close friend, preferably one who’s outside of your ministry context. Don’t hold it all in, that’ll just poison your soul. At some point, that poison will start infecting your relationships.
Don’t go on a smear campaign. When you are criticized, fair or not, we often feel the need to lash out (at least I do…). Going on the attack never does any good. It may dull the pain for a while, but it doesn’t resolve it. Make a list of your attacks…and then throw them away. If they are legitimate issues that need to be addressed, they will come up again.
Don’t stay the same. Resolve yourself to move forward differently than you were moving in the past. Write down the lesson somewhere. Share it with a friend. Make an “appointment” in your calendar APP three months in the future, so that you can evaluate and see if you’ve remained true to what you’ve learned.
Being criticized never feels good, but good things can come from it, if you have the will to see it through.