- Remember that even Jesus was often criticized and deeply misunderstood. Christ was constantly criticized, most painfully from inside the church world. He was accused of being a glutton, a man who hung out with sinners, and even of being a Samaritan (one of the lowest accusations possible back then). 1 Peter 5:21-23 says it well. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps. He committed no sin…but while He was reviled, He did not revile in return. While He suffered, He did not utter negative threats. He just kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
- Remember that jealousy and criticism are often the “trophy” that mediocrity pays to excellence. So if you feel that jealousy and insecurity are at the root of the criticism, don’t allow the criticism to become too huge in your own mind. Allow time to prove the person wrong. The day after Lincoln gave his famed Gettysburg Address, a prominent newspaper wrote, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat utterances of a man who now serves as the President of the United States.” So take courage from Abe Lincoln and remember that time will often be your vindicator.
- Guard carefully your own attitude toward the critic. A negative attitude toward criticism can sometimes cause you more internal damage than the actual criticism itself. So fight to not let yourself respond negatively. Just remember that you cannot sink someone else’s end of the boat and still keep your own end afloat. So ask the Lord to help you be bigger than any pain, anger, or misunderstanding that you feel. He will celebrate that request. I promise.
In short, I’ve often made the mistake of taking other people’s opinions of me too seriously while not taking God’s opinion of me seriously enough. So when criticism starts to “kick your head in,” try to focus on the Lord’s opinion of you more than that of others. He always understands what you are facing and remains solidly in your corner, cheering you on along the youth ministry journey. For extra encouragement, remind yourself of what the history books say about Abe Lincoln these days!