Posted 2 years 11 days ago ago by Doug Lawrence 1 Comments
Faced with a critical environment we all have choices to make—How Do You Choose to Survive During Criticism?
When I recently faced open heart surgery I was surprised by two things. First, that I was so frightened about it, and second that I was so calm about it. It’s not a picnic to have this surgery, but it does fix something that’s wrong, and that’s a good thing. So, we have a choice—to look at the complexity and potential hazards of events in our life or the hoped for positive outcome.
Church musicians these days find themselves in crisis often, particularly given that job security is a thing of the past. So in the middle of this clear and present danger, what are we supposed to do?
Ultimately I chose to focus on the positive aspects of getting this surgery done. The best survivors in the church world are those who start planning their own reinvention and have an ability to look toward the future and disengage from the hurt of what they are currently going through. This sounds easy but it will absolutely require the help and encouragement of close friends.
6 Thoughts About Surviving Criticism
In high stress situations, select which part of the crisis belongs to you and which parts belong to someone else.
Biting off more than you can chew is the way you have a heart attack, or at the very least, get unnecessarily bloated with stress...
Disconnect emotionally from criticism. Maybe it belongs to you—maybe it doesn’t.
If you wilt because you perceive someone being critical of who you are as opposed to something you have done, you’re in trouble! It is only human to feel attacked when you are in a perceived disapproving situation. Your pulse will race, you may begin to sweat, and for sure, you will be at least uncomfortable. Ask yourself—is this the best way to face and dispel the toxicity of criticism and distrust?
Avoid trying to defend your existence—it will backfire.
Most people who find themselves under fire start apologizing or being defensive about their whole lives. Don’t go there! Stick to the point. Make sure you narrow your conversation down to the subject at hand. Don’t bully and don’t be bullied!
Don’t go on the attack when you’re being criticized. Use your best (take a deep breath) pastoral skills to keep the conversation from escalating to a high energy blowup.
Write down things if you can.
Not making a lot of eye contact sometimes has its upside. Write it down—you must be listening...right? Make it appear that you’re going to do something about what you’re writing. If necessary, instead of writing down all the facts, write down the names of your children—it might just fix everything for your racing pulse.
By the end of your conversation, the accuser should feel that you have heard what was being said and that you are truly grateful for the input. In other words, none of the passion of the conversation belongs to you any longer. You have stepped out of the line of fire.
Criticism is not necessarily your enemy. Let it temper your thinking, but avoid being destroyed by it.
Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of "deep trench" worship leadership in prominent mainline churches. has been a consultant to church leaders for 35 years and is anxious to be helpful to you in leadership, musical, and staffing considerations. Or, if you wish, call 650.207.8240 for assessment information and scheduling.
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