One of the worst days of my life as a young leader and human being was when I faced the harsh reality that not everyone liked me.  I remember every detail about that moment.  Being blindsided by the criticism hurt me deeply and quite frankly, still does to this day when I hear similar things.

You pour everything in your life into those you serve and the response you sometimes get is one of slander, disrespect, insubordinate behavior, and lack of gratefulness and faithfulness.  You thought you would be in the boat with these individuals for years to come only to realize they are either not rowing, rowing against you, or at worst even swinging their oars against you.

Experienced leaders have learned to successfully navigate these relationships and harsh waters.  For some leaders this is simply the cost of doing business.  For others, they hold people at an arm’s length to protect themselves emotionally.  The healthiest leaders are willing to pay this price because the value of good relationships far exceeds the bad.

So how should Christian leaders respond to enemies and critics?  I would like to thank my pastor Crawford Loritts for his thoughts on this very important subject all leaders deal with.

  1. Don’t Declare Someone Is Your Enemy.  Let them make that declaration.  Otherwise, you will always be in a defensive posture.
  2. When It Comes To Forgiveness Don’t Wait To Feel It.  Do It.  Forgiveness is a decision, not a choice.  Pray for their favor.  Criticism doesn’t control your life.  God does.
  3. Don’t Act Like You.  Be Like God.  Matthew 5:45 says, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
  4. Don’t Give Them What They Deserve.  Give them what they need.  Don’t be blindsided by their offense.  Use the offense as an opportunity.  People who are prone to attack have experienced previous rejection.
  5. Don’t Settle For Progress.  Strive for perfection.  Get aggressively better, not progressively better.

Here are three final takeaways for Christian leaders:

  1. If we want to be righteous, we will be persecuted.
  2. There is never a reason not to be Godly.
  3. God has called us to be uncommon.

Pastors and Christian leaders, let’s learn from each other.  How do you successfully respond to enemies and criticism?


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