HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
One thing is for sure: if you begin to lead others you will be criticized. No one will be a significant spiritual leader if his aim is to please others and seek their approval.
Paul said in Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Spiritual leaders do not seek the praises of men, they seek to please God.
If criticism disables us, we will never make it as spiritual leaders. I don’t mean that we must be the kind of people who don’t feel hurt, but rather that we must not be wiped out by the hurt.
We must be able to say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;”
We will feel the criticism but we will not be incapacitated by it.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “ For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
Leaders must be able to digest depression because they will eat plenty of it. There will be many days when the temptation is very strong to quit because of unappreciative people. Criticism is one of Satan’s favourite weapons to try to get effective Christian leaders to throw in the towel.
I should, however, qualify this characteristic of being thick-skinned. I do not want to give the impression that spiritual leaders are closed off to legitimate criticism. A good leader must not only be thick-skinned but also open and humbly ready to accept and apply just criticism. No leader is perfect and the late Archbishop Frank Simon said once that he made it a spiritual discipline to look for the truth in every criticism that came his way before he discarded it. That’s good advice.