When I was in the process of writing Criticism Bites, I asked a friend, mentor, and most recently... my boss -Tic Long- if he'd be willing to write the intro to the book.
I knew that Tic was someone I had a deep respect for, knew me well, and had navigated a truck load of criticism in his years at Youth Specialties and running their national conference for decades.
So I was obviously stoked when he said he would write it. Since the book is now officially in print and available for electronic download , I thought I'd post his introduction here.
So for what it's worth... This is what Tic had to say about Criticism Bites:
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say, “I love to be criticized,” “Criticism is so awesome,” or “Criticism is fuel for my soul!” Nope, I have never heard that because most of the time criticism hurts. It more than hurts, it bites! It can suck the life right out of us and cause us to want to quit whatever it is we are doing. But check this out: If you are in ministry or a leader of any kind, it is inevitable—and if you are in youth ministry it’s close to being a constant companion. So you see, we don’t have an option but to learn how to deal with it.
Brian states early in the book, “Your capacity to respond to criticism in ways that honor God is not an optional skill; it is a mandatory tool for all leaders.”
He is 100 percent correct, but oh, if only it was as easy as that sounds. “Cool, I just need to add a new tool to my ministry tool belt and I am good to go.”
Dealing with criticism is one of the most difficult challenges in life and yet one of the least adequately addressed.
Most of us are more than aware of our typical, unhelpful responses to being criticized such as ignoring, getting angry, attacking, pouting, justifying, and daydreaming of elaborate ways of getting revenge that will strike a blow but won’t end up getting us in jail. We KNOW they get us nowhere, but we go there time and again.
Criticism is so multilayered. It’s personal, it’s professional, it’s called for, it’s uncalled for. We see it coming, we are blindsided by it. It is well-reasoned, ill-reasoned, and just flat-out wrong. It comes from both friend and foe. It hits our self-worth, our sense of calling, and our competence.
No wonder it can cut us to the quick and put us into a deep pit of despair. It is nothing to trifle with or attempt to face with simplistic responses.
Fortunately, Brian spares us the simplistic responses and provides four really helpful things.
- He explores with insight why criticism can be so devastating to us. What is it about being criticized that can so quickly rob us of our joy, confidence, and self-worth? He gets inside us.
- He provides a path, a way of being, a sense of understanding, a life strategy—whatever you want to call it—along with practical tools to not only survive criticism and to pick your way through its minefield, but to reach a place where you are not just better equipped to survive but actually grow from it in both your personal life and ministry.
- He puts us on the spot. Brian provides questions for us to have to work through about ourselves. This is not an academic exercise but an opportunity for maturing. We are being discipled in an area of our life we can’t ignore. Brian calls us to look in the mirror.
- He offers truth, real-life situations, and authenticity. This is a nonsense-free zone where Brian helps us face real issues in real life.
I have known Brian for years, and I have criticized Brian. I know that he lives the stuff he is writing about. I know the wisdom found in these pages can be life-giving. Those of you who are youth workers are called to be criticized; you can’t avoid it. You must always take risk, take chances, try new things. You will make mistakes (and you should!). You are herding cats, but you are also changing a generation.
Change...risk...new...mistakes...teenagers...parents...pastors... church janitors...your world invites criticism, and you must learn how to invite it in as a friend and not run from it as an enemy. Brian will help you to do that. He knows your world. He is your friend.
Sound like a read worth your time? If so, you can grab your copy if you click here.