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Why I Shrug Off Public Criticism

I get my fair share of public criticism. I got some today from someone saying that I have basically sold out for fame and limelight. No need for a collective sigh of pity.

I’m used to it: I’ve been dealing with it since Cub Scouts!

If you are a leader, you are going to deal with public criticism. The more I lead, the more of it I receive. In fact, the day it goes away, I will be wondering what I’m doing wrong. Even if you aren’t a leader, but you begin to do things in life differently, people that still do things the way you used to do them will wonder what’s wrong with you.

Generally speaking, though, people who feel the need to blast you publicly should be shrugged off. Here’s why:

  • Public critics are generally self-righteous and have an exaggerated sense of their own amazing, flawless contribution to the world. If you only did things more like they do it, you would be such a better person…so they think.
  • Public critics never know the whole story of who you are and what you do. They become fixated on some snippet of something they heard you say or do and make a conclusion about the whole of who you are based on a glimpse. Nobody gets that more than Joel Osteen. People see a snippet of a broadcast and draw conclusions about his entire ministry and the amazing church he leads. Your critics never know the whole story, and here’s the thing – they don’t even want to know the whole story – because . . .
  • Public critics have already made their mind up. It’s not worth arguing with them about it. No matter what you say or do, they don’t plan on budging. To them, you suck, and you can’t do anything about it.
  • It’s normally not even about you. People that have the time, space, or desire to blast you publicly often have something wrong with them that feeds this need to build themselves up by putting you down.

As a general rule, I encourage you to stay above the fray. I don’t spend much time thinking about any of the great hype that I receive or the many criticisms that come my way. I have a healthy self-assessment of who I am and have enough people around me that tell me the truth. They keep me pretty balanced.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you think? Dealing with criticism is a part of leadership. Shaun King’s perspective downplays public criticism. Is there a time when a pastor should publicly reply to his or her critics?