In the book This Odd and Wondrous Calling (Wm. B. Eerdmans), Martin B. Copenhaver notes that people in ministry are likely to face lots of criticism and have to learn to deal with that reality. He writes: “Often it is not about me. I am — and need to be — a relatively safe place for people to bring their disappointment, or grief, or anger, even when I am not the original source of that emotion.

“Sometimes it is about me. When criticism seems well founded, usually I am grateful for the chance to clarify, or to apologize, or to reconcile. Sometimes the voice of criticism is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking the truth, seeking to correct. But even when the criticism is well founded, that does not make it easy to hear. In fact, legitimate criticism may be the most difficult to hear because it cannot be as easily dismissed.

“I let myself value the opinion of some people more than others. One way to sort this out is to ask myself, ‘Would I seek out this person’s opinion?’ If not, then why would I give it much weight? One minister of my acquaintance retired early because he was weighed down by his critics. Reflecting on his decision with the perspective that a bit of distance and a few years can bring, he said ruefully, ‘It was only when it was too late that I realized that I had spent all that time listening to the wrong people.'” (Click here to learn more about This Odd and Wondrous Calling.)

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