Dealing with Critics

Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church has an interesting post on dealing with critics. In a church of 7000 plus, as well as a national platform, the number of critics someone like Perry faces is enormous. I have been following Perry for a while and I've seen most of the phases he mentions in this post come out in his preaching and blogging (he's very transparent about what's going on in his life). Here are the highlights:

Five Phases In Dealing With A Critic
Posted: 08 May 2008

...In my opinion–there are basically five phases in dealing with a critic.

#1 - The Explanation Phase

Early on in the days of NewSpring Church I honestly felt that if I could sit down with the people that were critical of the ministry that the Lord has called me to do that I could reason with them and help them to fully understand why we did ministry the way we did it.

It didn’t take me long to realize that most critics don’t want an explanation…they want an argument...

#2 - The Argument Phase

The next phase is the one where I tried to argue with everyone…I mean EVERYONE who had a negative word to say about the ministry. This was dangerous for me because I developed an “us versus them” mentality and began to think that everyone who wasn’t doing ministry like us just wasn’t doing ministry.

The Apostle Paul warns in II Timothy 2:23 not to have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments…and it took me a long time but I finally realized that the arguments I was involved in were both foolish and stupid…so I moved past that phase and moved to…

#3 - The Anger Phase (aka…the Punch Someone In The Throat Phase!)

There was a period in my ministry (December 2005 until March of 2007) where I was letting anger get the best of me. I was allowing myself to be controlled by it. I was spending most of my time trying to respond to my critics rather than really listening to the Lord…and it damaged me emotionally and spiritually.

Paul warns in Ephesians 4:27 NOT to give the devil a foothold…but I ignored that warning and allowed it anyways.

I won’t go through all that Jesus had to do to pull me out of this phase…but I will say that Craig Groeshel was a MAJOR instrument that God used to free me up from this attitude. I remember him saying once at a round table, “Some of you in the room (and he looked at me) are beating up hundreds, possibly even thousands, of people in your church up every week just because of one e-mail from a negative person.”...

#4 - The Ignore Phase

This is where I am right now…I ignore critics. I don’t read their blogs…I don’t receive their e-mails…and this either does one of two things to them…

First of all–it REALLY ticks them off…but then second of all…they usually go away. Seriously, if you refuse to put fuel on the fire they start…it will eventually go out.

I love what Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 6:1-4 when his critics tried to get him to take his eyes off of the work, “I am doing a great work…and I cannot come down.”...

…it has set me free in a major way.

(I will ALWAYS listen to someone who loves Jesus and loves me…but I will never listen to a blogger who has no life OR someone who sends in an email with a fake address…I don’t have time for them–and neither do you!)

#5 - The Compassion Phase

I am almost here…not quite. (Just being honest.) I wrestle with this. I see in Luke 15 when the prodigal son comes home and the older brother doesn’t come in the house to meet him that the Father goes outside and pleads with the older brother to come in.

I think we are called to do the same because…in that story…it would seem that the oder brother (who was the critic) was just as lost as the younger one.

Jesus dealt with this as well…He did weep over Jerusalem…but He also turned over temple tables. There IS a time to respond in boldness…but there is also a time to respond with compassion because, well, people just don’t understand.

Compassion does not mean trying to explain to them…or even exchanging emails with them…but praying for them...

I’m almost here…and, with God’s help, maybe one day I will be! (Once again–just being honest!)