Facing Criticism as a Leader: 3 Responses

One of the things young leaders are often unprepared for is the amount of criticism they will face.  Their enthusiasm and optimism lead them to believe everyone will be just as excited and committed to their mission as they are.  Unfortunately it doesn’t take long until their idealism collides with criticism.  This can be a defining moment for a leaders character, confidence and ultimately their credibility.

There is nothing like a small dose of criticism to stir your emotions, disfigure your self-esteem and get you off track from pursuing the thing God has called you to do.  That’s why it’s essential we process and respond correctly when criticism comes our way.  There are basically three options we can choose from.

  • Submissive leader – The submissive tends to be a people pleaser.  They have a mentality that “the customer is always right and I must please them to keep them.”  When faced with criticism they cower, wiggle and accommodate in order to keep everyone happy.  The submissive leader truly loves people but his love for people can cause him to put people’s preferences above what God’s called him to do. Some signs you might be a Submissive leader include: seeking unanimous agreement, shying away from conflict, suppress your feelings or opinion about a matter, and putting peace keeping above truth telling.  REMEMBER THIS- People pleasing creates a confusing culture where there’s no clarity or conviction around the mission.
  • Aggressive leader –The aggressive leader tends to be very decisive and passionate.  They have a mentality that “I’m on a mission and my way is the right way.”  When faced with criticism they react without forethought, become defensive in order to prove they are right. The Aggressive leader truly loves the mission but his defensiveness can prevent him from hearing from wise counsel that God may be sending to bring greater depth to the mission.  Signs of an aggressive leader include:  they come out swinging when they’re opposed, push people out of the inner circle when they sense disagreement, failure to listen to others input, and they respond first and process later.  REMEMBER THIS – When you fight to win someone loses and ultimately the mission is the one that suffers.
  • Assertive leader – The Assertive leader understands that criticism is a natural part of leadership.  They have disciplined themselves to process before responding so they can respond in way that honors God, others and the mission.  They possess a mentality that says, “People’s perception is their reality, so I can serve them and the mission better if I first listen, strive to understand and speak the truth in love.” Signs of an Assertive leader include:  Practice active listening, sees criticism as an opportunity, uses differing opinions to discover new insights, seeks to understand before seeking to be understood, stands boldly for what’s right while speaking the truth in love.  REMEMBER THIS – Assertive leadership requires spiritual maturity and patience and protects the integrity of the mission and the people who are carrying it out. 

What criticism are you facing?  In what way is it impacting your character?  Confidence?  Credibility?  What next steps do you need to take to process it correctly?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

Mac is a pioneering influence in the church planting movement. In 1997, he planted Carolina Forest Community Church (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina). In 2004, he began serving as Leadership Development Pastor at Seacoast Church (Charleston, South Carolina) where he served for over six years. In July 2010, Mac Lake joined with West Ridge Church to become the Visionary Architect for the LAUNCH Network. In 2015 Mac begin working with Will Mancini and Auxano to develop the Leadership Pipeline process. He joined Auxano full time in 2018. Mac and his wife, Cindy, live in Charleston, South Carolina and have three children, Brandon, Jordan and Brianna.

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COMMENTS

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winston — 03/09/18 9:15 pm

I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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