So the other day I received a short and to the point email. All it said was “Hi there, I really do not appreciate Classic Rock.... (signed…blah blah).” I left the name out to protect the innocent and curmudgeonie. This person was referring to the current series I am in. Now, I have taken a lot of hits over the years and this one really wasn’t so bad. As my mom would say “just consider the source” and so I am moving on.
I wonder how many people reading this has ever been criticized? Have you ever done something that you were proud of only for it to be taken down? This happened when I wrote my first book. There was a structured take down by a few people. Much like this random email…you get that warm hazy feeling like when you have been kicked in the stomach.
I suppose one could get cranked up and not think about what you say back to this person but what does that accomplish? I can tell you first hand not a whole lot of good. How do I know this? Let’s just call it experience. The whole critique was on one small item and yet how is it we can be utterly dominated by it? This doesn’t just apply to pastors but business owners, realtors, beauticians…on and on the list goes.
What I have come to learn is that the goal with all criticism is to become a non-reactive presence. Proverbs 15:1-2(NIV) A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. It’s not healthy to take that criticism and immediately start throwing punches. Why? Because you don’t know what else is in the room.
What else is in the room? The first thing to ask when someone confronts you is that simple question…what else is in the room? You make a big mistake when you take the first critique and try to address it. Proverbs 20:3(NIV) Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. You can go after that first question and completely miss the question behind that question. I have discovered many years ago that you do not have to defend yourself. First impulse is usually to defend. The first thing however is to ask questions so that you can address the issue behind the issue. For example…what is the question behind the question. What is the critique behind the critique? Fear behind the fear? Issue behind the issue?
For some people in churches they see something they don’t like and it is a trigger for how things were at their previous church. We see this in marriages don’t we? Now the truth is sometimes you threw the first punch. The goal however is to be a non-reactive presence. Don’t respond right or reply with an email right away…it will not be your finest work. The trick is to take a breath, say a prayer and not respond. Your greatest gift to them is being a non-responsive presence. Matthew 5:9(NIV) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Bottom line from what I have learned over the years regarding random pot shots is to control myself. Trust me when I say a person really doesn’t want to meet Bob. He’s not a very nice guy when backed into a corner. This saved, redeemed pastor Bob is much nicer. You see, you will develop great power if you are not tossed to and fro by the latest email or random text message. No critique ever comes at the right time. People like when others are spinning out of control. Don’t give into it.
What did I do with this email? I simply replied back stating we are all entitled to our opinions.