Though the following was used with youth ministry in mind, many people in leadership roles within the church fall into the same trap. Too many of us aren’t honest with ourselves, so we don’t accept our weaknesses. Many struggle with knowing how to handle objective criticism; rather than learn from their mistakes, they ignore them or push them under the rug. Consider the following:
Originally seen on http://www.YouthMinistry.com (used with permission)
Once there was a youth worker who, for the most part, loved her job. She loved building relationships with her youth, she loved teaching volunteers how to engage youth, she loved helping parents learn better ways to disciple their children, among many other things.
She had taken over a thriving group a year before, after the last youth director retired. Though the group had decreased in numbers, that was supposed to be expected, right? After all, the group had been in transition. And the kids who were showing up really wanted to be there!
Though she loved her job, she didn’t like all of it. She was free spirited, so she couldn’t understand when people got angry that she missed a deadline. She would often make excuses why the material that was supposed to be planned and communicated by such and such a date wasn’t ready to go after all. But what was the big deal? She had it under control. Why couldn’t these people get off her back and let her do her job when she wanted to do it? People loved her creativity and enthusiasm, but the people who worked closely with her often couldn’t handle her last-minute nature. She couldn’t help but criticize them for their lack of flexibility. She didn’t see what the big deal was. She was getting it done. They were the ones with the problem. Their expectations of her were ridiculous and irrelevant.
Then there was the youth worker down the street from that other church. She’d been there for a little over a year. She, too, loved her job for the same reasons the other girl did. She understood that she couldn’t be everything to everyone, so she spent most of her time pouring into the volunteers to help them disciple every youth in the church. She effectively communicated with parents and loved to help them understand the youth culture. She loved her team!
She took over when the last person who did the job moved away. Though there was a breaking in period, the group had actually grown a bit. The kids often brought their friends. And what was even greater was that she was able to recruit more volunteers.
But she had her weaknesses, too. She was free-spirited and often struggled with deadlines. She had a tough time finding traction, and she had to discipline herself to get the day to day stuff accomplished. But when someone approached her with their concerns, she, along with her team, strategized to help her overcome her deficiencies. She surrounded herself with people who cared about her and the youth ministry to help her be accountable to them and to herself. She realized that the bar was set high, but with the help of her team, she was able to successfully maintain a healthy rhythm in her ministry.
How do you handle criticism?