As leaders in ministry, we are called to reach our generation and the one that comes after us. Whether you're the lead pastor, youth pastor, worship leader, class volunteer, or a greeter for Sunday mornings, you are important to the Body of Christ. Without one another we cannot be a fully functioning Body. Sometimes there's a spotlight on you, and sometimes you're working behind the scenes, but always remember that you are working for God, not for man.
Leadership in any type or form comes with great responsibility. There is structure to follow and certain expectations to be met; but unfortunately not everyone measures expectations in the same way. One person may think you are doing an amazing job leading worship, and another will say they didn't like that last song you played. Someone may come with tears in their eyes to tell you how amazing your message was in youth class, yet another might complain that they were bored.
Criticism will come, people will roll their eyes, and some people may choose to leave the church because you don't do things the way they want. Rude comments will come because the church is filled with imperfect people. As young leaders those words will hurt us, break us, and make us want to leave ministry altogether. The trick is knowing which comments to take into consideration and which ones to brush off. Those who refuse to give up eventually develop thick skin and learn how to function without taking negative criticism personal. Here are tools for having a strong leadership foundation.
Always check with your pastor. When criticism comes your way, speak with your pastor about it and get his or her insight. Submission is the key. If your pastor says to change it, change it. If your pastor says to ignore the criticism, then just toss it out and move on.
Analyze if there if there is room for improvement. There may be fruit in the ministry and many people may be positively impacted. However, we are constantly growing and evolving. Check if the criticism can be applied to improve the ministry in some way.
Is the criticism constructive or destructive? Sometimes great comments are made as suggestions to give insight on what people are interested in seeing or hearing. Other times criticism comes to poke at small things that are irrelevant to the effectiveness of the ministry. If the criticism feels ugly and destructive, toss it out. Take in the good, spit out the bad.
Does the criticism align with God's heart? When you keep your eyes on God, you understand how He works and how He wants to operate through you. If the criticism sits well with you and comes from a reputable source, then take it into consideration. God wants to encourage, inspire, and guide others.
"I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
Take a step back and look at the ministry you are a part of. Check your growth over time, look at the progress, and see who has been impacted. No ministry is perfect by man's standards because we all have different ideals. Ministry can be tough, but remain encouraged by communicating with your pastor, networking with other leaders, and seeking God. Regardless of what your leadership role is in ministry, always remember that God is at your right hand and will never leave your side. As long as you are sensitive to God's guidance, true to His word, and submit to the authority of your leaders, you will not be shaken.
Joshua Reyes graduated from Victory School of Supernatural Ministry in Houston,TX and is the author of "He Loved Me Enough". He currently resides in Mercedes,TX and serves as the Youth Pastor at Church of the Living Word in Weslaco,TX.