Open to Critique

Good leaders are humble prayers. They know they need guidance and direction. Help from an outside perspective is always appreciated. Therefore, they are persistently found on their knees asking the Counselor to guide them in their desires, thinking, speaking, and actions. They are humble and willing to learn.

Good leaders are humble readers. They know they do not know it all, and so they are consistently found with their noses in books. Consistently, they are gleaming information from authors – both ancient and modern – in an effort to improve themselves and their institutions. They are humble and willing to learn.

Good leaders are humble listeners. Drs. Henry and Richard Blackaby co-authored the book, Spiritual Leadership. They teach, “Effective leaders make a concerted effort to invite discussion and constructive feedback from associates. When they find that no one raises any questions or suggestions, they recognize they may have inadvertently created an atmosphere where contributions are not considered welcome.” Good leaders, because they are not as sharp as they could be, are always ready to receive input on how they and their leadership might be improved. They know Christ deserves more than what they are giving him. They know their neighbors need to be more adequately loved, served, and led. They desire to be more excellent than they currently are. They recognize the value of creative out-of-the-box thinking. Therefore, they maintain a humble posture; they are willing to learn.

constructive criticism

However, many of us are not so willing to learn. We are not so quick to request and receive the comments, criticisms, suggestions, questions, innovations, or ideas from others. Many of us surround ourselves with a few like-minded confidants, or we seclude ourselves as much as possible from divergent opinions. In our hearts we think poorly of those raising questions, and if they continue we speak harshly of those disagreeing with our chosen course of action. Frankly, we are not interested in receiving feedback from those we feed. As leaders, we have a tendency to squelch questions and avoid constructive criticism in both our personal conversations and our leadership meetings. In our board or session meetings, the last thing we want is to experience healthy, heated, and honorable debate. Oh, friends, as a former senior minister, this is part of my testimony and track record. For years, I withered at contrary opinions and surrounded myself with fellows whose ideas I liked – because they were my ideas. Where did I get the idea that I and my brilliance would always be appreciated? Where did I get the idea that everyone would and should agree with my decisions? Why did I portray a dissenting voice as divisive? Worse yet, where did I get the idea that I was almost always brilliant in my strategic thinking, and that my ministerial decisions could not be improved upon? What was I thinking? What was wrong with me? I’ll tell you what was wrong with me. It happens to be the same thing that is wrong with many of us reading this article.

Many of us are not so willing to learn, because many of us are not so humble. Blackaby writes, “Pride makes leaders unteachable … Our pride convinces us that we alone possess the depth of insight for success, and we become impervious to wise counsel. We grow impatient with those who do not readily accept our opinions. We rob ourselves of enormous potential opportunities, all because we are unteachable.” (p. 233) What’s wrong with us? It is simple: we are not willing to learn because we are not humble.

This is another opportunity for us to apply the Gospel to our predicament. This is one more time to “remember, repent, and recover.”

Let us remember God’s expectations. He calls us to be leaders with unblemished knowledge, character, and skill. This is his law, and these are our obligations. Let us also remember God’s assessment: There is no one righteous, not even one. We are not the exception.

Let us repent and run afresh to God’s underserved and unlimited love. We can humbly exclaim our failures. We do not need to hide our sins from one another. We know we are filled with folly. Christ lived the life of a perfect leader on our behalf. He then died for all our sins, including our leadership sins. Therefore, clothed in his righteousness alone, the Father declares each and every day, “Well done, my good and faithful leaders.” Today, we can humbly enjoy God’s perfect righteousness, unfluctuating affection, and unceasing affirmation.

Let us then recover and worship rightly. We can humbly enjoy God’s fantastic law. It is that which we ought to do. It is that which we now desire. And, because it is our daily prayer that he might refine us, lead us into truth, and help us be more excellent for him, we can humbly learn. We can be ready to receive, evaluate, and properly assimilate comments, criticisms, suggestions, questions, innovations, or ideas from friends and even foes.

Good and humble leaders, we can recognize our need of many counselors. We can receive counsel, relax, and be improved.

  • Proverbs 11:14     Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
  • Proverbs 15:22     Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
  • Proverbs 24:6     For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Good and humble leaders, we can recognize our need for continual sharpening from our friends. God tells us that friendly wounds are to be preferred to pampering kisses. We don’t have to take things so personally. Not everyone who hurts us harms us. We can relax, receive feedback, and then do the next right thing.

Good and humble leaders, we can recognize we are always in need of review and revitalization. We ought always be “remembering, repenting, and recovering.” We might even say we are always reforming. Therefore, let us praise the Lord and value the comments, criticisms, suggestions, questions, innovations, or ideas from others.



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Could you use an objective voice in the life of your church? Embers to a Flame has a coaching program that can help you look with fresh eyes at your mission, vision, values, objectives, strategies, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and mission field. For more information, please give us a call or take a peek at our website






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