Hi there, my name is Benjamin Conway, and I am the pastor of Tree of Life Church in Dagenham. We are currently looking at the topic of Loyalty – something you need to cultivate as a leader.
As soon as someone gets to the passive stage of disloyalty (stage 2, as discussed here), you need to know that the next step is criticism. It’s an easy step – someone gets to the stage where they are annoyed and offended to the point where they stop building the house, they are now in a position to start criticizing how the house is being built.
Someone quits the children’s ministry – not because God is leading them to a new opportunity, but because of offense. Leave it a while because they will next start to subtly attack the children’s ministry:
“They don’t care for the kids anymore…”
“It’s too worldly…”
“It’s too religious”
“If I was still there, I would…”
They have now stopped building the wall and started ripping down the wall. They have stopped living for the vision and started finding fault with the vision. You can only move into the critical phase if you have first stopped working. People on the team don’t rip the team apart – only the people who have left the team spectate and criticize the team!
When someone is critical you need to watch out – you have an explosion coming. Now – you might not know that person is critical because they may take their criticisms elsewhere. But you need to know that a critical person is hard to help.
At this stage, someone will ask “what about a legitimate criticism?”, That’s a great question, and there are three simple ways to tell the difference between a legitimate criticism and a critical attitude that will lead to disloyalty.
1. A genuine criticism can be resolved. Let’s say you were round someone’s house and broke a lamp or something. They may have genuine reason to criticize you. But if you buy them a new lamp of equivalent value and style, then it has been resolved. A critical attitude cannot be resolved. The person is offended and nothing will make them happy. You can try a few times but it won’t work.
2. A genuine criticism is reasonable. Other people can see it – if you are wise, you can hear the truth in it yourself. A critical attitude is unreasonable. A genuine criticism is that the sound quality at the back of the hall was not good today. A critical attitude wants you to resign, the board to resign and all the elders to resign as they don’t have the right revelations.
3. A genuine criticism is constructive. The person giving the criticism wants to help, wants to move things forward – they are looking for unity, restoration, progress and building. A critical attitude is destructive – it wants to rip things apart, it wants to hurt, it wants the win. Often people who are insecure end up in this stage quickly – the only way they can feel good about themselves is ensuring everyone else feels bad about themselves so they lay into people.
Dealing with this phase is difficult. People are warm – they are getting hot and are ready to explode quickly and they move onto the political phase quickly. We will discuss that next week, but let’s conclude this week with three steps to handle critical people in your church, business or camp:
1. Don’t give them responsibility. They have probably taken themselves out of any position that involves work in the passive stage, but now they will look for a position that involves responsibility over other performance but no actual work. Don’t do it. Don’t be pressured by it. If someone explodes because you didn’t make them an elder, rejoice – they would have exploded AS an elder at some point and it’s good that didn’t happen.
2. Don’t let criticism from those with attitude get to you. Don’t even respond to it. You are not criticism led, you are Spirit led. That’s a fact. You should not even respond. I don’t respond to emails that just tear down, I don’t respond to people who rip me apart and attack our church. I don’t respond – not even one bit. I don’t move, I don’t change what I am doing, I don’t fret about it, I don’t lose sleep over it. Their behaviour is their responsibility. Their attitude is their responsibility. I am responsible before God to do what I am called to do.
(As an aside, Facebook is the best way to criticize me if you want to – it has a block button and everything. It’s awesome!)
3. Don’t fight fire with fire. When someone comes at your with criticism, the temptation is point out that they are not all that. It is a real temptation to tear them to pieces. Don’t do it. Bless those who curse you.