Leadership without intentionality will fall to criticism. Everyone has an opinion. We have all have heard this expressed in various ways. Feel free to finish this though yourself, “You know what they say about opinions…” Nothing births opinions like a leader! As soon as leaders take their place in any level of any trade, there are opinions birthing from every other person about their leadership.
This is always vividly on display around athletic events. People love to share how they would have done something different. “If that were me I would have,” “I would have called a different play,” “If I were the coach…”
These opinions offered, usually forcefully toward a television, hold no weight. People often and easily speak things with no fear of accountability. When our opinions cost us nothing, they are easily used flippantly. The opinion that matters is the one who is leading and will be held accountable.
You are a leader. You are in a role to equip parents. God has allowed you in your place. You are leading staff. You are leading a volunteer team. You are leading students. You have invested skin in the game. That also means you have given birth to opinions to every single person that comes in contact with your ministry. Some are encouraging, welcome, and give fuel to keep going. Some take their toll, cause sleep deprivation, and dreaded encounters.
These criticisms, in my life, never become easy to hear. However, the level of their impact will be directly connected to your intentionality. If you know why you do what you do your response will be calm and seasoned. If you don’t know your, “why” for anything you do then welcome the critic. I believe in this way criticisms, positive or negative, can make us better leaders.
Remember we are accountable to all we do. Acts 20:28 boldly says, “Be on guard for yourselves and all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His blood.”
2. Renew Your Mind
Is it possible to let criticism fuel you in a positive way? Sure we all wish those who felt positively about our leadership would be the only ones to speak up, but that is not the real world. When encouragement does come we become mirrors that deflect to the One who is worthy of it! Glory cannot stop on us.
More commonly the person who you are going to hear are those who see things differently. Their voice is usually loudest. They hold intense, crippling power. Even the most confident leaders can attest. Be reminded just how easy it is for them to speak these conflicting opinions. The accountability for their opinions is void. Here are two ways that will help when these moments come:
3. Test Yourself
Sometimes opinions outside of ourselves are necessary. Wisdom and levelheaded processing realize that testing and questioning are not bad. Humility will even allow us to admit when someone’s opinion is right. We all have blind spots. High capacity leaders are constantly searching for them. This is not easy. It can and will be a punch in the pride at some point along the way. All pride needs a few good punches anyway! It’s hard to come to grips with the reality of this truth. Out of the overarching vision and thoughts you have for the area you lead there are flaws in your thinking. When we can remind ourselves of this our testing and processing begins with a little more humility and less pride. This is a healthier place when criticism is coming.
4. Know your Why?
When those criticisms come. Be able to know and answer, “Why?” We must know why we do what we do. We are the ones who will be held accountable. When we are intentionally leading, criticisms lose their crippling power. Christ’s plans for His church then isn’t altered by those who think that He should not do the things He is doing. This happens about every time Jesus encounters people. He was ushering in or leading in Kingdom minded thoughts. They were then and are still now countercultural. It is hard to grasp the application of phrases like, “if you want the life then lose it.” This is notably one of the phrases recorded in all four gospels (twice in Matthew)!
There will be criticisms. They do not have to cripple your thinking. Sift it through these thoughts and allow it to be put to rest. The hope is to be able to focus on what God thinks of our labors for His Kingdom than what people think of our methods.
(Acts 20:28; Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; John 12:25)
Written by blog contributor:
First Baptist Church on the Square, LaGrange, Georgia