Principle #7 – Pass on the praise, own the criticism. Those executing ministry deserve to receive all the praise and so it must be passed on by the leader, but criticism is to be first examined by the leader to see how it reflects their leadership.
One of the joys of ministry is hearing people share stories of how their life is impacted by the ministries we help lead. We hear stories first hand of what God is doing and see His hand at work. What an incredible privilege.
As a leader working with people serving in your ministry you need to realize something. The praise you get is a direct result of the work each person in that ministry is doing. The whole body works together to accomplish the work God has called the church too. So when we receive praise – yes delight in the stories of God at work – but always make sure you pass on the praise to those who are the core of the work being done. I’d even encourage to attribute the praise to those people. Make sure those who are being impacted know it is the body of Christ, and not just the leader, who are at the heart of the ministry. What does this do? It affirms those serving they are making an impact. It teaches those impacted that the people serving make a difference. It reminds leaders to be humble and to recognize they are but one part of the body of Christ.
What about criticism? Doesn’t that work the same way? Many of us are so scared of criticism and would rather duck or run rather than face it as an opportunity. Often criticism reflects structural or systemic issues. Even when a volunteer is directly criticized those leading need to evaluate their leadership, their areas of ministry, for those things that could have contributed to the issue raised. Sometimes, yes, we need to address those serving to correct issues. The criticism though needs to be owned by the person leading to adapt to the new needs and to recognize their responsibility for the overall ministry. Criticism is an opportunity to self examine, to grow, to learn, and to strengthen our overall ministries. Sometimes we have to sift through the feedback to identify the issue, but we are better leaders when we are able to engage with the feedback we receive.
Healthier ministry based on gracious acceptance of feedback. Praise passed onto volunteers. This may not seem key to the recruiting part of volunteers – but it does create a culture and a healthy culture attracts volunteers. So as you recruit for your ministry areas don’t forget that your reputation is a part of your recruiting strategy. Why not have a reputation to pass on the praise, and to own the criticism.