Once, I was overseeing the preparations for a worship service when the sound operator was working hard to mix individual parts. During these times, the volume is often higher and seems more intense, especially since the congregation is not present to absorb much of the sound. On this one particular day, one of our first impressions volunteers walked through the worship center. He stopped in the middle, jumped up and down, and waved at me furiously.
Assuming he was a little overzealous in saying hello, I waved back.
In response, he clamped his hands over his ears and jumped up and down.
I left my station, walked to where he was, and started to explain the situation. Fortunately, there was a lull in the music so the volume had dropped.
“I know it’s a little louder right now while he’s setting the music, but…”
“You know what?” he interrupted.
“What?” I asked.
“I’m going to make a lot of money.”
“Yes,” he said as he crossed his arms, “I’m going to sell earplugs outside the doors as people enter. What do you think about that?”
I paused and took in a breath. I didn’t have time for this.
“Well,” I said. “Be sure to tithe on it.”
Fortunately, he laughed and we both continued with our work. We spoke later, after the worship service, and he accepted my explanation of what was happening.
Dealing with complaints and criticism is something that is extremely common in worship ministry. It’s easy to get miffed when this happens because to worship leaders, artists, technicians, and speakers, the complaints are seemingly aimed at us.
So, how should we deal with criticism, especially in the church? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few tips that help me:
- Listen to the criticism and respond to the person in a Christlike manner. It doesn’t matter if they’re right on target or way off base, they were still created in the image of God and deserve our respect.
- Respond to the suggestions of the criticism and not the tone of the criticism. People can be nasty without realizing it, especially when something is bothering them enough to speak out. Remember that a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words makes tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)
- Examine the criticism in order to see whether or not it is valid in your context. Ask yourself what you can learn from the criticism.
- Smile if possible. Doing so can often help calm both yourself and the complainer.
- Determine your course of action (or inaction) and move forward.