The Opinion Blender
I remember standing in exhausted shock in the midst of my now-empty church after the first women’s ministry event I coordinated. I was the hero of the day, and I couldn’t quite take it all in. After waving good-bye to attendee after gushing attendee, I looked at my friend Peggy and said, “I have no idea what to do with all of that praise.”
She smiled wickedly and said, “Don’t worry. All the criticism is coming.”
She was right.
When you put yourself into a position of leadership of ANY kind–pastor, speaker, women’s ministry director, Sunday school teacher, etc–you will be introduced into the world of flying opinions. They’ll swirl around you (the good, the bad, and the ugly), and if you’re not careful, they’ll totally engulf and consume you.
Mark Driscoll has been quoted as saying, “Pastors (insert your leadership position here) have lots of foes and lots of fans but very few friends.” So true.
So what do we do with criticism? Perry Noble gives this wise advise, “If you listen to the criticism, you’ll think you’re worse than you are. If you listen to the praise, you’ll think you’re better than you are. If you listen to your friends, you’ll stay on the tight rope of balance.”
I absolutely LOVE that advise, because I’ve struggled with wild swings of thinking that I must be the pits to thinking I’ve finally got it all together. Both extremes are dangerous places to live. I so love to live “on the tight rope of balance”.
To stay firmly on the tightrope, I think it’s important to define the term “friend”. There have been times that I’ve mistaken both foes and fans as friends. My true friends are the ones who love me deeply despite my flaws but also have a clear view of those flaws. They’re the ones who don’t shrink back from telling the truth but who stir love, kindness and gentleness into those hard words. They’re the ones who will give me grace and the benefit of the doubt on my bad days but shut the lights and close the doors on extended pity parties. They’re the ones committed to do life with me even when it’s messy, but they bring Fantastic along for the ride. They’re the ones who will celebrate my successes and mourn my defeats right by my side. And I do the same for them.
These are the people that will keep me in balance as I strive to minister to others in a spirit of service and humility.
And what do we do with the praise? My friend Jane, a gifted worship leader and singer, paraphrased a quote from Corrie Ten Boom when she passed on her secret to receiving praise. Jane told me, “I take each compliment as a flower, and at the end of the day, I give the bouquet to Jesus.” That advise has helped me so much. My personality didn’t feel comfortable saying “Give Jesus all the glory” every time someone said something nice. I WANT Jesus to get all the glory, though. I just didn’t want the compliment-giver to feel rebuffed, so simply saying “thank you” while I receive the “flower” gratefully feels just right to me.
If you’re in leadership, I want to encourage you today. You are not as bad as your foes say. You’re also not as wonderful as your fans say. 🙂 But you are loved servant of God on a journey to being like Jesus with others in your wake. And that’s not only enough…it’s wonderful.
Wow! Thank you for sharing so much. I just finished a six weeks class yesterday and we had a wonderful time together. I have struggled how to handle the praises, sometimes I responded by saying thank you & thank God and other-times I responded by saying thank then, thank God. I really like the visual you shared, collecting all the flowers from the people and passing it to the one who deserved it. Thank you again for sharing.
It is good to hear such wise and timely counsel. I have often felt weird accepting compliments and now I have a good idea of what to do with them. Give them to the One who deserves them. Thanks Amy
Timely post Amy. I have let the opposition and criticism keep me in the pits!! I need to get up, brush myself off and get with it!! 🙂
Oh yes, balance is best! It’s great to have some friends that can be truthful and give you feedback that covers the strengths and weaknesses. It’s also critical to know that when we put ourselves out there, we will experience opposition and criticism…and that’s an excellent reason to have some friends who are committed to praying for us.
Wow, loved this blog and the pointers! They were so timely. I am new in women’s leadership and honestly have been receiving a lot of positive feedback and didn’t really know how to handle it. On another side I received some negative feedback and “I” allowed it to affected me terribly…one negative feedback. Proof that I didn’t know what do you with either! Thank you for your openness and candid blogs, they are such a blessing to us all!
This is Truth-filled and wise advice, thank you! Won’t forget the bouquet image!
Sage words my friend. May we be intent on excellence and joyfully bringing JESUS bouquets of praise!
I just want to let Amy know that her devotions this morning, “Unfolding” was exactly wht I needed. My path is so much like her path. All I wanted to do was write one children’s book BUT God had other ideas. When I received my very first box of books I prayed and said, “Now what God?” He Is showing ME what HE want me to do…..slowly I might add, but that is how I am learning it is His will and not mine. Presentations, speaking engagements and book readings have made my heart smile and I know it is God’s plan. So thanks so much for the devotions for today, April 11….it also made my heart smile.
Thanks so much for your encouragement, Cathy!
So well written and wonderful advise. It is my position that Praise nor Criticism should never fully be listened to. To the critics I try to reply “I’ll consider that”, to the praisers only, “Thank you” and thinking to myself ” I accept this praise for Jesus Christ who cannot be see by some but is fully here to recieve His Glory” (a take off from an Oscars speach -laughing) It is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in me and not me, myself, and I…
Solid advice. Thank you. I have often felt very uncomfortable with the lines of people and compliments. So much so that I gave up speaking for quite some time. Your flower imagery and gifted bouquet is just the advice I needed to find the balance between thankfulness and humility. Thank you.
another beautifully written post. . and makes me thankful for my hubby and the 2 real girlfriends I have. Love the part about giving Jesus the flowers.