Every worship leader, at one time or another, will have someone criticize some part of the worship ministry. The laundry list of issues could include: the songs, the volume, the style, the length of worship, etc.
It is one of the hardest parts of worship ministry. How does one handle criticism?
It can be harsh. It can be ambiguous. It can be unfair. That’s not to say the criticism is always bad. Sometimes what is offered genuinely helps. To handle the inevitable, let me suggest a few things to help you “keep your chin up”.
1. Accept what is said without arguing. It is important to hear the other person, even if they come from an ignorant view point. Sometimes people just don’t understand all that goes into the worship ministry. Major on grace as you listen with your ears, your eyes, and your heart.
2. If asked to give an answer to the criticism, you can do so, but I recommend that you ask for time to think about it and get back to them when you have had time to pray and work through your initial thoughts. Answer again with grace. It won’t help to come across as a “know-it-all”. Rather, be a brother or sister by lovingly committing yourself to the relationship. Avoiding the person who has criticized you is not healthy and will only result in protracted trouble.
3. Do your best to disconnect yourself from what you do. If someone does criticize, most often they are not attacking you, even though it may feel like it. Lean on the Holy Spirit of God to be wise with the feelings you may have. Remember you are loved by God and though you might hear something difficult, life will go on and you will recover.
4. To be honourable in a matter like this, do not succumb to the temptation to create an “us and them” atmosphere. This can happen when we bring others into the “argument”, trying to bolster our position. (For example, by saying “Well, so-and-so agrees with me.”) Remember we are all part of the Body of Christ and unity is at the heart of acceptable worship. Dividing in order to conquer is a worldly tactic.
5. When criticism is helpful, take the opportunity to thank the person and build a deeper relationship. It just may be that God is providing someone to be a sounding board. What a blessing it is to have someone we can trust to give objective and honest input! We really don’t need a lot people to tell us what we’re doing right. For that, we simply look for God’s smile. And he will smile when we humble ourselves before one another.
6. Let God guard you from unfair treatment. God is far more powerful to rightly judge any situation. Give God the right to correct. He can and he will. That does not mean that you become a “door mat” but it does mean that you reserve the right of rebuttal to God. Practice trust in God. Not only is this God-honouring, but you may win a friend in the end.
I have had well-meaning people criticize the way I play piano, sing, write, and even look. At those moments I admit there was pain. The worst pain for me came when the criticism was directed to what I thought was a strength. It’s in those times that worship leaders, singers, musicians, and sound operators can choose between anger or trust that the discipline of the Holy Spirit will result in the growth of maturity.
You may be experiencing a moment of pain right now because of what someone said. My prayer is that you pursue God, who is your shelter. Oh, by the way, if you haven’t heard critical comments recently, you just may be hearing them soon. Don’t fear, but joyfully draw strength from God, your help. We appreciate your Comments