Pastor Joel Beeke has featured his twelve points concerning how to deal with criticism on many podcasts and conferences. I felt it necessary to share the 12 Points here, provide short points based upon my own experience (and Beeke’s), and share the several links below where he has discussed these in more detail.
Though these principles are tailored toward ministers, they easily apply to all! I have personally counseled many, at work and in the church, concerning some of these essential points in that easily fall into the category of conflict/resolution.
I pray that we will find these profitable, and grow in spiritual maturity as we reflect on these vital practices.
When faced with criticism, consider:
- Criticism is Inevitable
- No matter how we manage to avoid it, we must expect it. Especially in leadership, criticism is inevitable. But not criticism is bad. So have a healthy perspective, and welcome it.
- The Motive Behind Criticism
- Sometimes people’s motives are pure, sometimes they are not. Give the benefit of the doubt, and only assume evil to criticism when it is clearly stated, or when is evinced by an evil character.
- The Source
- Not every person or group is credible. Give them the benefit of the doubt, but don’t place heavy emotional weight when the source is corrupt.
- The Context
- It’s often said, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” But it isn’t just this. It’s when you said it, where you said it that matters too.
- Considering the context of the conversation is just as vital, and will keep you from clipping portions of what was stated and adding your own emotional interpretations.
- The Content
- Just like context, the content, regardless of who said it or how it was said, will allow us to accept objective truth. Some criticisms could always be stated better. But if what was said is true, then we receive it with humility.
- The Scriptures
- This is the most essential principle. Take the criticism and match it to the Scriptures. Let this be our ultimate guidepost on whether to accept or reject criticism.
- Christ (Beeke’s favorite)
- Look to Christ as our ultimate example of dealing with criticism. Not “what would Jesus do?,” but what did He do?”
- The Examples of Biblical Saints
- There is a treasure house of saints and preachers before us, written in biographical form, that will give us wisdom on what to do when we are criticized. Utilize these resources.
- Do you love the person(s) who is/are criticizing you? Perhaps the most important point to consider is not whether the person who is criticizing you loves you, but do you love him or her?
- Long Term Vision
- Most criticisms are often short-lived. Don’t think too long on them. They are matches that heat up for a little time and vanish away. Consider them, but keep moving.
- In light of eternity, some of the criticisms we take to heart will melt away. If you keep our eternity in view, then these “light afflictions” (which can so easily discourage us) will have minimal impact on our resolve.
- Our self-perceptions can feed into how we receive criticism. Having biblical self-awareness and humbly considering our weaknesses and strengths will allow us to make room for change, and accept our inadequacies and limitations, as necessary. This will allow us to accept criticism more readily.
- Joel Beeke on Puritan Works and Dealing with Criticism in Ministry | Ministry Network, Jan 2011 | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQcp_0fA74o
- Dr. Joel Beeke – Faithful in Dealing with Criticism – Shepherds’ Conference 2019 | Coram Deo, Feb 2022 | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6pZee76v0E
- Coping with Criticism – Dr. Joel Beeke / Christian Audio Sermons | Christian Sermons and Audio Books, Feb 2018 | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N3FptU5I-A
- Pastors and Their Critics | Reasonable Theology, 2021 | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzy6XJYRiWo
– Until we go home