When Your Ministry is Criticized

bloom

The words cut like a cleaver through a fresh piece of meat and I felt exposed and ridiculed.

Hurt was quickly followed by anger and resentment, and I wanted to defend myself. I longed to make others see what I did, to notice the hours of work and commitment I put into this position.

Although the insult was directed at a ministry I volunteered for, it may as well have been aimed at me personally. As I pondered what was said, I stood on my soapbox and pointed out the injustice of it all.

The more I spend time volunteering in the ministry field, the more I see the opinions voiced are often anything but fair.

My skin isn’t thick, and criticism which is not helpful or edifying makes me quick to take up a defense, to take it personally, and to wallow in pity. But the more I sank into this pit of ill feelings, the more I sensed the Holy Spirit speak to my heart.

Who are you trying to impress? Are you doing all of this for me or for an audience of peers?

If the whisper wasn’t enough, it was confirmed when I pulled up the webpage for my daily devotion, and the title read, “Whom Do You Seek?”

Yes, God. I get it. Loud and clear, you are speaking to my heart.

The truth is, my prayers for this ministry had worn a little thin. My mind had gotten distracted. Comparison can be my worst enemy, and when I hear someone say another church is doing something better or more current, it is easy to fall into the trap of defeat instead of continuing to press toward the goal.

And the goal is Christ, friends.

The fruit of the Spirit cannot bloom in a bitter, self-righteous heart.

When my mind is more focused on pleasing people than God, my ministry suffers. If my ultimate purpose isn’t glorifying Him, nothing I do will make a lasting difference.

Any impact I do make is because of Him, and Him alone.

Paul really drives it home in 1 Corinthians, when he says,

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow…For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:7,9 NIV

When my eyes stay focused on Him, everything else falls into place because I see my deep need. He is the ultimate grower, not me. And while complaints and insults may come, I can have peace because I know my goal is Christ.

Humility is the ultimate fertilizer for the Holy Spirit to bloom.

We are simply planters and co-laborers. Our job is to plant, to provide a place for our community to feel loved, and to reflect his compassion in our words, actions, and attitude. So often though, we want credit.

We want recognition for our efforts and our hard work. We long for a pat on the back for a job well done.

Such desires are human, but when we allow them to overtake us and be a priority, our ministries lose their focus and the focal point becomes skewed.

If you are suffering from feelings of defeat today, can I come alongside of you and pray for you?

God sees your work. He sees the effort and the time you put into making his name known.

Keep your eyes focused on Him and not on the comparison or negativity around you. And I can promise when you do, He will give you peace which transcends anything you can fathom.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

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41 thoughts on “When Your Ministry is Criticized

  1. Absolutely loved your post this morning, Abby. You took our eyes back to the very core:Jesus. Amen! From time to time we need reminder of the “reason for our season”. xo

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  2. Abby,
    I needed this post this morning. I am going to meet with the powers that be within my church to say “yay” or “nay” to supporting “my” ministry of Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan. You’ve got me thinking and remembering its not “my” ministry, it is ultimately all God’s ministry. He is the one who will ultimately soften hearts if it is in His will. I need to humble myself and be His messenger. Self righteousness doesn’t add anything positive to the equation. Thank you for a heart adjustment this morning!!
    Love you,
    Bev xx

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    • Bev, I have been praying that your meeting with the church went well. Please keep me updated. It is easy to fall into that “my ministry” trap, but God is ever so patient with us, isn’t he? Thank you for your support, sweet friend.

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  3. I just love this Abby!
    “Keep your eyes focused on Him and not on the comparison or negativity around you. And I can promise when you do, He will give you peace which transcends anything you can fathom.”
    amen and amen!!

    Thank you for inspiring us with another wonderful blog!! Blessings sweet friend,

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  4. Abby,
    Thank you for these words and your generous offer to pray. I’ve been following your blog for about a month and have been greatly encouraged by your words (and the words of your guests). My heart is so torn in my current ministry. Most days I wake up and fall asleep with more hurt and questions than I can find the words to express. I would be so very grateful for any prayers you can say for me.
    Thank You!
    Blessings,
    Leigh Ellen

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    • Leigh, thank you so much for sharing. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through these difficult circumstances and am praying. Lord, please give Leigh comfort and wisdom as she moves forward in this ministry. Please show her where she can set boundaries and guide her steps. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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  5. Abby,
    Your words have just been the hug I so desperately needed today. Thank you! I too need to leave comparison out on the curb with the trash and need to press on toward the one and only goal, Christ.
    Thank you for this hug, this encouragement today. It was oh-so-timely!

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  6. Wonderful encouragement, Abby. Makes me think of Hebrews 6:10-12, too long to quote but it applies. 🙂 Hanging our hat on human recognition is so our nature, but their opinions are fleeting and fickle. It’s hard though, not to be hurt by the negative some seem to point so easily. God is bigger than their words! Keeping my eyes on the prize with you. Hugs!

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  7. Tough words, but falling in the trap of seeking man’s approval can happen to any of us. It is kind of sneaky because you don’t see it coming. Excellent advice. Keep your eyes on Him. We are working for Him not man.

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  8. Abby, love this: “Humility is the ultimate fertilizer for the Holy Spirit to bloom.” Oh my heart needed to hear that today! Beautiful words as always! Kim

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  9. Oh boy, I hear ya! The thing about criticism is that it can affect us physically if we let it. Once those words take root deep inside, they can wear us down from the inside out. (Let’s just say I’ve had some experience in this area!) You are right on, Abby. If we keep our eyes on Him, the criticisms will have no power over us. Blessings!

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    • Kristine, it is so true that these things can affect us physically if we dwell on them. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom. Blessings to you, friend.

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  10. Beautiful post Abby. Humility is gratitude in disguise and a place where God dwells. Your points are right on reminding us our place in God’s kingdom. Thanks for a brightening my day.

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  11. I always love reading your posts Abby. I don’t always have time to let you know but your words inspire and encourage me. Thanks for recommending the link up. I am going to do that now.

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    • Thank you, Jodie! So good to hear from you again. I love Suzie’s linkup and I’m sure you will to. It really is a wonderful community. Blesssings to you, friend.

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  12. This ties in with my post today on sacrificing pride and our Bible study earlier this week. We discussed who we are laboring for and I love Ephesians 6:7. Serve wholeheartedly, as you are working for the Lord and not for man. Great post!

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  13. I’ve worked/volunteered in ministry a long time, and I know where you’re coming from. Somehow when you’re “out there” you’re visible and open to more criticism. And what better opportunity to be humbled? To let the Holy Spirit bloom in our hearts. 🙂 Blessings on your weekend.

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    • Oh Betsy, I’m sure you have dealt with this in your field and it’s true that we put ourselves out there when we engage in this type of work. It is so worth it though. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here today. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  14. Abby, I can not tell you how soothing your words are…how healing to my soul. I’ve had a rough couple of days, a very scattered sort of week. Then I pull up Twitter and find the link to your post. Everything settles within me. I pull out my journal and jot your words down…the words that help me to refocus and truly see. Keep writing…never stop. Blessings!

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  15. Very well said, Abby! It must be “Christ and Christ alone” in our efforts to minister to others. Discouragement is the enemies tactic to drive workers from Christian ministry. Continue to please Him in all areas of your life and pray for those prone criticize others.

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  16. Excellent post! This especially spoke to me: “The truth is, my prayers for this ministry had worn a little thin. My mind had gotten distracted. Comparison can be my worst enemy”

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