If you are a leader, you will get criticism, people splitting from you, and even betrayal. It happens to everyone. How you respond determines if you will keep leading, keep your emotional health, and if you will finish well.
And now the time is fast approaching for my release from this life and I am ready to be offered as a sacrifice. I have fought an excellent fight. I have finished my full course and I’ve kept my heart full of faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7 (Passion)
We want to be like the Apostle Paul and finish with our heart full of faith. How did he endure his trials and not get bitter? I don’t know, but I know of some things that helped me. I want you to know that no matter what you do, even if you make every decision perfectly, someone will criticize you.
In a perfect world with well-adjusted people we wouldn’t deal with criticism, splits, and betrayal. But it’s not a perfect world, and not everyone is well adjusted. So, don’t be surprised by stuff. Plan now how you will react. It will reduce your heart ache, introspection, and depression. We can’t eliminate emotional pain but there are things we can do to reduce it. As I walked through criticism, people splitting, and betrayals here are 9 things that helped.
You are Not Perfect, but You are Good.
Many years ago, after a church split and betrayal by friends, I became depressed and very introspective. I was constantly analyzing where I went wrong, and what I could have done different to prevent the split. The Father spoke to me and said, “I am the perfect Father, who provided the perfect environment in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve had no sin in their life, and they still split from me. Craig, you are not perfect, but you did good. If it can happen to me, don’t be surprised it happened to you.” That statement says everything and set me free.
I realized I might not have done it perfectly, but my heart and intentions were good. Even if I was perfect the split probably would have still happened. I say to you, you are not perfect, but you did good.
You Don’t Owe an Explanation to Everyone.
When criticism and disagreements – let’s call it stuff for short – happens, our first tendency is to tell our side of the story. We want people to understand why we did what we did.
The desire is noble, and sometimes the explanation works to calm the situation. But many times, it doesn’t. People will believe what they want to believe. People want what they want. During heated stuff people justify their beliefs and emotions no matter what the facts and intentions are.
If explanations are not working my recommendation is to stop explaining. Ask forgiveness where you need to, then drop it. Trying to convince someone of your viewpoint and intentions is a never-ending drain. Endlessly explaining ourselves can be a tactic of the enemy to distract you. People don’t want to listen, because they may have to admit that they were wrong or over reacted. Most people’s identity is not strong enough to admit they did something wrong.
Come to Peace with Being Misunderstood.
There will be people that will never understand you. They may think you are selfish, shortsighted, and out for yourself. They don’t give you the benefit of the doubt. I have had stuff with people who many years later still think I missed God, did something awful, etc.
Come to peace that they will never understand and there may never be resolution. The only way I found resolution in my soul is to go to God and make sure I am right with Him. Repent where I need to repent, learn where I need to learn, and then continue to walk with Him in purity and simplicity. Ask God to help you let His approval be enough. He is the only one who is fair, will never leave, and whose opinion you want.
Give the People to Jesus.
I recommend 3 actions towards the person who has hurt you. First, forgive the person who hurt you. You will not feel like forgiving. But forgive them verbally with your mouth by faith. Ignore your emotions and say it.
Second, verbally release the people to the Father. Tell the Father that they are His children and you release all responsibility, care, and concern to Him.
Third, verbally bless them. Again, you will not feel like doing this. But verbally by faith, bless their spirit, soul, and body. I highly recommend doing all 3 actions verbally. It is a much more powerful release of any bondage or wrong connections in your life than just thinking it.
Give the Circumstance to Jesus.
This is like the last point. First, instead of giving the person to the Father, give the circumstance to the Father.
Second, ask the Father what you did wrong, what you could improve on, what you should learn from the circumstance.
Third, ask Him to redeem it. Ask Him to cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28). Give Him the circumstance and don’t continue to review and replay the events.
Let God Heal Your Hurts and Wounds.
Every time you feel the pain of rejection, depression, etc. run to the Father and tell Him how you feel. Don’t stuff it. It will erupt at the worst time. It is okay to share your emotions with Him. He will bring Himself or other resources to you to heal you. He wants you healed, and you will become healed as you walk with Him.
God is Still with You.
No one understands what you are going through like Him. Hebrews 12:3 (Passion) So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures.
Live close to God. He will meet you where you are at. He will give you specific words to bring you forward if you will stay close. It may look like the end of the world, but it will start spinning again.
Learn to Trust Again.
As painful as it seems, you need to trust people again. Without trust no deep work of ministry or life moves forward. Don’t worry about trusting now. But ask God to show you how to trust again. It is scary to put yourself back in a place of potential pain. But if you stay close to Him, He will show you how to trust again.
You will learn how to forgive, release, and bless even faster next time. You will realize you made it through the emotional valley of death once, you can do it again because you learned how to hold His hand.
Regroup with Those Who Are Left.
Regroup with those who were also hurt. Answer their questions. Have fun together. Learn to live life again. Help them walk through these same steps. Minister to their hurts. Then leave the past together. Tell them things will be different but He has not thrown us away. Move forward reminding them God’s calling is still on your lives.