Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: Constructive Criticism

HEALTHY CHURCH: Constructive Criticism

“Everybody makes mistakes, but no one likes to be corrected!” These words in God-Initiated Leadership by Bill Elliff certainly speak truth to most of us, if not all of us. Proverbs 9:9 (HCSB) says, “Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man, and he will learn more.” Are you open to the advice of others? Are you willing to be a life-long learner who is always looking for better ideas and wisdom from others? Maybe the greater challenge is the hesitation (hopefully we are hesitant) to confront others when needed. Confrontation is never easy. If it is easy for you than the problem is probably with you and not them.

In giving good godly advice, here are some metrics to keep in mind. Use empathy where you learn to read the room and the situation as you are led by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Be able to also read yourself through good self-awareness. Develop social skills that enable others to read your friendliness and your motives that you genuinely do care about them. As you focus on conflict management, confrontation or constructive criticism, you must prepare to read the tension as it arises. Now is the time for decision-making, where you add up all of the “reads” mentioned so you can read the situation in order to present a solution.

Are you open to others speaking into your life? Bill continued, “Reproof is one of God’s greatest tools to lead leaders.” Do you look forward to input from others? That does not mean you will always follow the advice, but do you give it a fair hearing? This is from a post by a friend on social media: “In Scripture, David says that being rebuked by a godly person is a kindness.” Notice the reference says a “godly” person because you do need to consider the source, and you should not receive advice or criticism from just anyone. Why would you accept criticism from someone you would never go to for advice?

The post continued, “Nobody really likes criticism, but everybody can benefit from it when it is given wisely and taken humbly.” There is great wisdom in making sure the advice or criticism is wise. Wisdom is not knowledge, rather it is the use of knowledge at the right time. A.W. Tozer said he would not pay attention to anyone who did not pay attention to God. That is great advice. The key here is receiving it humbly. Bill Elliff stated, “Has your humility paved the way for others around you to be able to help you? Do your colleagues know that you are humble enough to be approachable when they observe things that need correction?”

The social media post continued, “David suggested what to do when facing criticism from the godly: Don’t refuse it, consider it a kindness and keep quiet — don’t fight back. Putting these suggestions into practice will help you control how you react to criticism, making it productive rather than destructive.” Unfortunately, and all too often, we shoot the messenger and have an unwillingness to address any kernel of truth there might be in their message. In II Samuel 19:5-7, King David’s response to Joab’s open rebuke is recorded as he was willing to hear it, apply it and act upon it.

Proverbs 22:17 makes this principle clear, “Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge.” The first step to true wisdom requires listening daily to God’s Word, which demands the price of time and effort. It comes to those who seek it, search for it and settle for nothing less. In Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge he said, “To receive a fresh word from God, I must prove myself a faithful steward of the last word He gave me.” God speaks to us primarily through His Word, but also though the Holy Spirit, a multitude of counselors and circumstances. 

Are you living in a posture of humility where others know you are open, accessible and ready to receive godly criticism? Paul told Timothy to keep a close watch on himself and on his teaching. That requires a willingness for the regular, consistent self-examination of your affections, attitudes and actions. In I Tim. 4:15, he told Timothy to be committed and immersed in these practices. Bill said, “The phrase is literally “be in them.” You might describe someone as being really “into” their work or they are really “into” sports. Why are you supposed to be so “immersed?” So that others will see your progress and improvement.

Are those closest to you and around you able to see your improvement, growth and humility in becoming more and more like Christ? In this area of humbly receiving advice and constructive criticism, a leader must not just be pointing the way, but leading the way. Bill suggested all of us should take the Diotrephes test (see III John 9). Do I seek to be first? Do I submit to biblical truth? Do I criticize other good leaders? Do I humbly submit to spiritual authority? Do my actions match my words? Do I have a good testimony? It is not that hard, but it also is not easy. The number one rule would be to stay calm and not to overreact.

Receiving constructive criticism requires a position of confident humility. You are confident that God placed you in the position you hold. That reality also keeps you humble because you understand that your role is God-given. It really is not about you or me and, when we forget why we have been placed in a leadership role that undermines the whole purpose for why He placed us there. God has placed you where you are, with the people He has given you to lead them in a way that His purposes can be fulfilled for His kingdom and for His people.