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How to Respond Well to Harsh Criticism

Several years ago, I had just finished leading worship for a big event that had taken a huge amount of my emotional and physical energy, the better part of six months to plan and execute, and a significant amount of ministry capital, when a letter arrived in my mailbox (an actual letter, in my actual mailbox) addressed to (you guessed it …) me.

As any humble worship leader would do, I hoped that this letter would contain high praise for my incomparable musical and spiritual prowess, list specific ways I was awesome, tell me particularly impressive things I had done and possibly contain a financial blessing (i.e. “cash”).

I opened it up, ready to receive the flattering praise of an adoring fan congregation member, and instead read the following (I’ll summarize for time’s sake):

1. That was the worst thing ever.

2. You are the worst worship leader ever.

3. You have ruined everything.

4. Did I mention you are the worst worship leader ever?

5. Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Let’s just say it wasn’t the glowing letter I was hoping for.

I immediately wrote this person a response that said:

1. That was actually the best thing ever.

2. I’m actually the best worship leader ever.

3. You’re an idiot.

4. Did I mention that I’m the best worship leader ever?

5. May God’s richest blessings be showered upon you.

Then I felt better. And then I crumpled that letter up and threw it away. Then shredded it. Then threw it away again. Then I wiped the servers. Even though the letter was handwritten. It’s never a big deal to wipe servers, apparently, as we all know.

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Jamie was born and raised in Florida as a preacher’s kid. Since age 14, he has been leading worship pretty much every Sunday of his life, experiencing all of the joys and trials of church ministry. For over 10 years, Jamie has been writing at his blog, Worthily Magnify, in the hopes of helping worship leaders lead better. In 2006, Jamie married Catherine, and they now have four wonderful kids: Megan, Emma, Callie, and Jacob, who keep them busy, laughing, praying, and very grateful to God.