If you have been in youth ministry for any length of time, you have had to deal with criticism. In fact, if you have been in any kind of ministry for any length of time, you have dealt with criticism. I wish that I did not have to write this, but criticism comes with the territory. If not dealt with properly, you will stress out and burn out rather quickly in the ministry. How do you handle that adult who comes to you and criticizes what you are trying to do in the ministry? How you respond and how you react is so important, and can dictate how effective you will become in that current ministry. Here are a few tips:
- Pray with the Critic– Always begin meetings with prayer. It helps get things centered on Jesus. Now, sometimes you are blindsided, and you do not have time to pray. If this is the case, and someone just randomly comes to criticize you, suggest a meeting time where you can get together with them outside of the inappropriate time.
- Listen before you speak– It is easy to just start defending yourself and getting aggravated. This is the natural thing to do. If you want to respond well to criticism, listen before you speak. Let the critic explain themselves before you respond.
- Have confidence in your calling– Many youth pastors are young so we can easily be intimidated with older wiser adults in the church coming to us with concerns about your job. Remember, you work for the most high. You were called by God in that position. Have confidence in that calling. This is not saying you act arrogantly, but have confidence in why you do what you do.
- Inform your pastor regularly– The more open your relationship with your senior pastor is, the better off things will be. I would recommend informing your senior pastor more than enough to be certain. You have to have his back in the process.
- Live above approach– This is Biblical, and should be every pastor’s goal. If you are living honestly and correctly, you should have confidence in what you are doing. If you are being dishonest and deceptive for whatever reason, it will often show when critics come running to you. Seek to do things right. Have integrity, and live with character.
- Never be afraid to admit mistakes– Sometimes it is difficult to admit mistakes to people, because we think that it is a sign of weakness, but it is not. It actually shows how strong you are. If you were wrong, admit it, and move on!