The Test of Criticism

One of the realities of leadership is criticism. The nature of leadership makes this inevitable. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you aren’t receiving criticism, you probably aren’t leading, as leadership means you are taking people to a place they aren’t at yet, which involves change. Which no one likes.

I was reflecting this past week on what happened when we started Revolution was the criticism we received. Both from people who left Revolution and from people outside Revolution. When we started, we started by doing a 9 week series on the Song of Solomon called Pure Sex (you can listen to the series here, click on series). To launch, we sent out 15,000 mailers with this picture on the front

Needless to say, the reaction was split. We had some who were excited, positive about it. Finally, a church that was going to answer questions they had when it came to sex and marriage.

The other side was interesting as well. We got phone calls, people blogged about it, pastor’s preached about it. I know of 3 churches where the pastor stood up on a Sunday, held up this card and said “this was from the devil and was smut.” During this series, we had a few people show up from these churches to see what their pastor was so worked up about. A few ended up staying.

This past weekend, I told this story in my sermon and talked about handling criticism and forgiving those who hurt you and slander you. Unbeknownst to me, there were a few people who attended one of the churches I was talking about (to this day I don’t know the names of the churches, I never asked). They talked to me afterward and told me how they hadn’t been to church in a few years, but how Revolution wasn’t anything like what their pastor said. We preached the gospel.

I was thinking this past week as to the test of criticism. I wonder if God allows criticism to come to prepare us for later leadership and to see if we can handle it. The larger your leadership influence grows, the more criticism you will receive. If you as a leader can’t handle the criticism at the beginning, I wonder if God keeps our leadership from growing because he knows we can’t handle it as it grows and gets harsher and more public.