How to Deal with Leadership Criticism

Leadership / Personal Development //

How to Deal with Leadership Criticism

Last weekend Victoria Osteen started a firestorm when she made the following remarks during a worship service at Lakewood Church:“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God we’re not doing it for God — I mean that’s one way to look at it,” she said from the pulpit. “We’re doing it for ourself, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning … just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.”

This article in “The Blaze” sums up both sides of the conflict.

There have been over 300,000 views of the 37-second video on YouTube.

Some people have gone so far as to say things like:

“It’s the age old sin of idolatry — that it’s not about God, it’s about us,”

Let’s be honest. We’ve all said things from the pulpit that we wish we could take back or say differently.

While I think there is a better way to say it, I get what Victoria is trying to say. I tend to agree with Morgan Guyton who said, “Victoria Osteen is absolutely right if what she’s saying is that God doesn’t need us to worship Him for Himself, but He wants us to worship Him for our sake.”

The truth is that Christianity is about both, loving God and loving one another.

One thing that I do not get is why people like to attack the Osteens.

What has the guy done that is so bad? People say things like, “He is too positive,” or that they “don’t like his smile.” It’s not un-churched people saying these things, it’s Christians.

But, when I think about it some more, I do get it. Joel and Victoria Osteen pastor the largest church in America. When you are a successful pastor, you are going to get shot at. It just comes with the territory.

What leadership lessons can you and I learn from the firestorm surrounding Victoria?

  • You are going to get shot at. It comes with the territory.
  • Don’t take it personal. Leaders need to develop thick skin and a soft heart. Many times the person criticizing you is just a distraction.

I want to take a few minutes and talk about how leaders should respond to criticism. If you haven’t been criticized yet, then you have not been leading for very long.

People are going to take shots at you. You need to be prepared. How do you respond to criticism? If you don’t have a plan, then you may respond with your emotions and that will not be good for you.

This is my advice on how to respond to criticism:

  • Who is criticizing me? If it is a friend or a customer who is criticizing, then listen to what they are saying. You may or may not need to make a change, but you should at least listen.
  • Seek to Understand. Most conflict is rooted in misunderstanding. The first step to resolving conflict is to understand the other person’s point of view. Even if you are the person who is being misunderstood, the solution is to seek to understand the other person first. She is going to be motivated to understand you if she thinks you understand her.
  • Apologize – If you have done something wrong, eat humble pie and apologize.
  • Ignore it – Some criticism is just people putting you down for being successful. This is their problem, not yours. Forgive them and move on.
  • Make Changes – If necessary.
  • Don’t Quit – Some criticism can be really hurtful, but do not allow other people to control your life. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Keep running your race! If you quit, the team gets weaker.

That’s how I respond to criticism.

What about you? How do you respond to criticism?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.





About the Author

Pastor, filmmaker, coach and comic book collector, Mark Harper has over 30 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church Curriculum series, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. Mark and his wife Debra have two adult children, one grandchild and one Yorkie who thinks he's a german shepherd.