In the book, Standing Fast, one of my spiritual heroes, Dr. Ed Dobson, shares several examples of critical letters he received while a pastor. These letters, mostly anonymous, were defeating. Dr. Dobson shares three ways to handle criticism in ministry:
Accept it as part of the package! The ministry is sometimes pressure, discouragement, disappointment, heartache, criticism and conflict. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” This is ministry reality.
Don’t believe everything you hear! A lot of criticism people throw our way is based on ignorance or misconceptions. When it’s appropriate, Dr. Dobson encourages us to educate people. When it’s not, it’s best just to forget the comments.
Ask God about it! Dr. Dobson says that he takes the criticism he receives to the Lord in prayer. “This is what they’ve said about me, Lord. Is it true? Help me to be honest with myself and determine what truth, if any, lies beneath their comment.” Dr. Dobson says that he actually reads to God the letters critical of him. Sometimes he finds that God is trying to say something to him. Other times, God simply reassures him that he is on the right track and has no need to become discouraged