How to Respond to Criticism – Seven Great Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions I get from Pastors deal with handling criticism.

It comes up in coaching networks, at live events and in simple conversations – so I’m always looking for how other people deal with critical words.

Recently I read this article from my friend and Coaching Alum Hal Seed, where he suggests seven questions to ask of yourself before responding to criticism:

Respond to Criticism with Seven Great Questions
by Hal Seed

A while back, I suggested that preachers request their congregants give them 48 hours to recuperate before giving criticism.

Once you receive criticism, how should you respond to it?

Let me suggestion seven questions you ought to ask before doing (or saying) anything:

1. What part of this is true? (And what should I do about it?)

2. Hurt people hurt people, so how is my critic hurting, and how can I help him/her?

3. How important is this issue to the health of the church?

4. How easy would it be to make the changes being suggested?

5. What would improve if I implemented this suggestion?

6. What might be hurt if I implemented this suggestion?

7. What does my wife think about this criticism? Does she see some truth in it that I am missing?

When it comes to criticism, you want to weigh what is said and by whom, rather than counting the number of people saying it.

Critics often build their case by saying, “A lot of people are thinking this way.”They want to present as forceful an argument as possible, when in reality, it may be that just they and their best friend had one conversation about it.

You can ask for specific names if you want, and then count how many people actually feel this way, or, a better way is to weigh the wisdom and influence behind the criticism.

For instance, if key a Board member, staff member or Elder is offering this criticism, their one voice might count for a lot more than ten or twenty uninformed or uninvolved fringe attendees.

Weigh the criticism as you ask your seven questions.


Resist obsessing.

And use what is said to build your character and the church.

Oh, and if what was offered was done in a kind manner, with good intentions, be sure to thank your critic and ask God to bring you more of this kind of feedback.

What methods have you found helpful in handling criticism?

Great questions Hal!

In addition to asking what your wife thinks, I might add that there’s great value in placing yourself in a setting with other kingdom-minded, forward-focused Pastors – for encouragement, accountability and a positive atmosphere.

The only thing worse than having to deal with criticism (and we all do) is trying to face it all alone – and no one truly understands a Pastor like another Pastor.

That’s one of the advantages of being a part of my Senior Pastor Tele-Coaching Network – having a group of people who are facing (or have faced) the same challenges that you are, all focused on church growth in a positive atmosphere.

My next Tele-Coaching Network begins August 19 (yes, less than a month away) and it’s filling up fast – but if you’re ready to take your leadership and your church to the next level, there’s still time to get in your application.

For more information and to apply now, visit:

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyLeadership

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