There is an immutable truth about success. If you succeed, you will be criticized. Succeed in family life and there will be those who pick you apart and cut you down. They will look closely for faults. Succeed in business or ministry and people who don’t know you will hammer you and say things about you that they would never say to your face. Wherever you find success, there you will find critics waiting to tear you down. It is a sinful condition of human nature based on envy and jealousy. But if you want success, then you must prepare for criticism.
No one likes to be criticized. Some people handle it well and others do not. You can deal with criticism by becoming bitter, angry, defensive, and withdrawn. You could be too sensitive and let it hurt you and lead you into discouragement or depression. Or you could see criticism for what it is, keep a good perspective, learn from constructive criticism, and ignore invalid criticism. Here are a few ways to handle criticism.
1. Give yourself permission to succeed.
My dad used to tell me that if people were kicking me in the tail it meant that I was out in front. If you want to avoid all criticism, then never lead and never do anything. In fact, just talk about how you would do it differently and criticize those who are actually leading and taking risks. Criticism goes with the territory of leadership and success. You have to believe in the vision you have and learn to ignore the critics. Give yourself permission to succeed. If you don’t believe in your vision no one will.
2. Give yourself permission to do it differently.
Successful leaders - be they pastors, business professionals, politicians, or whomever - are trailblazers. You have to allow yourself to break tradition and do things differently. That is sometimes hard to do. I know when I started Avalon Church, I often felt guilty about the way we did things. It was completely different from the traditional styles of ministry that I had always done. It was also what God had called me to do and is a huge reason for the growth of our church. I had to decide whether I wanted to please God or man. Thankfully I chose to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It was still difficult for me to give myself permission to do things differently because I was criticized.
3. Don’t feel guilty about success.
Often people criticize because of envy. That is not always the case, but it is root cause of much criticism. Some will criticize without having all the facts. Don’t let your success be a stumbling block in your life. If you become filled with pride over your success that is sinful. On the other hand, don’t apologize for being successful. Thank God and give him the glory.
4. Realize that it is ok if not everyone agrees.
Why some people believe that everyone has to be exactly the same in every little thing baffles me. I am not talking about major things, like what you believe about Jesus, but minor things like leadership styles, family traditions, business practices, or personal habits. God is wonderfully creative and uses many unique things for his glory. If he created over 300,000 species of beetles, then why should it surprise us that he uses churches, families, businesses, and individuals with differing styles? Don’t let it bother you if not everyone agrees with you or if people are jealous or envious of your success. Keep your eyes on Jesus Christ and worry about pleasing him!