Maybe whenever you see one of your critics coming, your palms begin sweating. The hairs on the back of your neck may stand straight in a salute. Your eyes focus on every object in the room and rest on the chemical storage closest—perfect! Maybe you've even squeezed your body into the tiny space and watched through the cracked-open door as she passed by.
Surely there is a better way to deal with your critics in the church than hiding from them.
Here are the five different types of critics who may be infiltrating your ministry and practical advice on how to deal with them without hiding in the chemical closet:
1. The Cruel Critic rarely considers herself cruel. Usually, the Cruel Critic experienced cruelty during her childhood or adolescence and responds out of her own pain. Take a step back and breathe. Clarify what she is trying to say. The truth of her statement may be hidden underneath the poignancy of her words. Address the real issue in a non-defensive way, smothering your reply in grace. This breaks the cycle of spite and exemplifies another way to behave.
You will occasionally encounter the Cruel Critic face to face, but most often you will find her online. Through a screen she forgets she is communicating with another human being. With the keyboard as a separator, the temptation to counteract critique with a sharp tongue is even stronger. Give yourself even more time before you respond.
When appropriate, give the person the benefit of the doubt by assuming her cruelty is unintentional, and help her recognize what she is doing. Remember to temper your words with love and grace, especially since you don't know if her passion is due to past pain. Chances are, if the Cruel Critic communicates to you online she is also communicating to others in the congregation in a similar manner.
Never forget the importance of extending grace and kindness to The Cruel Critic. You may become a balm of healing and restoration in her life.
2. The Never-Satisfied Critic is exhausting and will grate on your emotions. Part of the reason your best isn't good enough is because her best isn't good enough for her either. With this insight, encourage this Critic when her best is good enough. Did she do a good job greeting newcomers last Sunday? Tell her! Whenever a victory occurs, especially when the victory is hers, include her in the celebration.