If you’ve been leading worship for any length of time you’ve probably come to realize that criticism comes with the job. Brother Bob tells you that you did too many songs. Sister Susie tells you that you did too few songs. Brother Bob tells you that the mix was too loud. Sister Susie tells you that the mix was too soft. You’re tempted to turn Brother Bob and Sister Susie on each other but you know that’s not going to be helpful. So what is a perplexed and frustrated worship leader to do? You will never be able to avoid criticism altogether but you can control how you responded to it. Here are four tips for responding to criticism in your worship ministry.
We love it when people compliment us. We love to get a pat on the back and a “well done.” It’s easy to take positive feedback. It’s equally easy to dismiss negative feedback. But just because feedback is negative doesn’t mean that it’s not valid. Be willing to listen. Don’t write people off just because they don’t agree with you.
Don’t take it personal.
Chances are you probably take some pride in what you do. You probably work hard to hone your skills and you probably put a lot of time and effort into planning your services so it can be really disheartening when someone comes at you with a bit of negative criticism. I find that most people are well-intentioned so don’t take it personal. Even when they aren’t all that well-intentioned, don’t take it personal. I’m speaking from experience here. It’s just not worth stewing over. Let’s face it, we take negative criticism personally because it hurts our pride. Let it go. You’re not all that great anyway. None of us are and that’s why we need Jesus! Extend the same compassion, grace, and mercy to others that He has extended to you.
Know why you do what you do.
Do you use contemporary music in your ministry? You do? Great! Why? Do you use fog machines in your ministry? You do? Great! Why? Understanding why you do what you do and communicating that understanding to others will help you field negative criticism. I find that most tension resulting from negative criticism can be resolved by simply explaining the reasoning behind what you are doing. Remember, the best defense is a good offense.
A massive deterrent to negative criticism is cultivating support for your ministry from within your congregation. Recruit a group of people who you can share your thoughts and ideas about worship with. This isn’t a cohort of groupies but a cross-cut of your congregation that can help you think through, communicate, and reinforce your philosophy of worship.