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Contending with your critics
If God wrote a want ad, perhaps it would read like this: Kingdom workers needed immediately. Urgency of task and shortage of workers makes it mandatory that we expand our labor pool. Recent resignations have left many openings. Frequent absenteeism will force us to make unwanted cutbacks in services unless we expand our work force. Ability is not as essential as availability. An excellent training manual, tried and proven for 2,000 years, is available.
We hire regardless of sex, race, or age. Diverse backgrounds welcome -- even helpful. In the past we've hired peasants and poets, kings and fig pickers, fishermen and doctors, harlots and queens, young lads and wise old men.
Main qualifications: firm faith in Christ, a soft heart, and a thick skin.
Work is not suitable for everyone. Must be able to withstand criticism of fellow workers and shirkers who often insist on their rights and ignore their responsibilities.
One of the primary qualifications of an effective leader is the ability to handle criticism. Criticism is a part of the leader's life. If you have a thin skin, it's hard to handle the sharp barbs of critics. However, if you have a thick skin, you tend to be insensitive to the needs and warnings of others.
Many leaders fear getting hurt. Unfortunately, getting hurt will happen when you're a leader, regardless if you take risks and make changes. It's part of the price you pay. Determine to accept both the pain and joy of being a leader.
You can expect criticism in any of the following situations:
Change is a sure way to attract critics. Sometimes people criticize because change is uncomfortable or because they don't see the need for it. They may lack confidence in leadership. Or they may criticize because they don't understand the proposed change. Maybe they feel the change devalues their values or that it gives them no ownership. Some criticize because they believe that other changes demand higher priority or that the timing isn't right. It could be that they are tired of continuous change.
Fear also brings out critics. Many fear the repercussions or implications of change. They fear the change will create division or that they will lose control of or significance in the group. Maybe they fear failure.
Feeling ignored and unwanted is also certain to draw criticism. If people feel you haven't consulted them about the change or that their needs and interests are being disregarded and/or jeopardized, they will criticize.
People criticize for a number of other reasons: to enlighten a situation, to gather information, to test motives or competence. They may criticize to gain attention or control, or they may criticize because they care about you and the organization.
Leaders make themselves targets for criticism if they:
To deal effectively with our critics, we need to learn how to handle criticism.
Robert Cook, president of King's College, once told this true story. In his early years of ministry, he began receiving some pointed criticism. It became such a great concern that he sought the counsel of a friend, the beloved Bible expositor and pastor, Harry A. Ironside. Pouring out his heart, Cook asked how he should handle the denunciations of his critic. Ironside gave this wise counsel: "Bob, if the criticism is true, mend your ways. If it isn't, forget about it."
Norman Vincent Peale put it this way, "The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." We can deal with criticism if we accept it as God's of making us better people and leaders.
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The General Council of the Assemblies of God