Monday Morning Insights

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    Leadership:  Learning to Say “I Don’t Care”

    Leadership:  Learning to Say “I Don’t Care”

    James McDonald has a great post on his blog about how each leader should acquire a sense of, what he calls, 'holy indifference'.  These are things that a leader should not care about.  The first one:  Don't care about criticism from people you don't know...

    Here's what James says about this subject:

    I don’t care about criticism from people I don’t know. Criticism is helpful and good and I have benefited greatly from it, but hardly ever from a stranger. People close to me give helpful criticism. People I know who differ from me, but who I am in relationship with help me see what those too close might miss. But I just don’t care about grenades thrown by folks I’ve never met and who am not in community with. I could care; I could get wrapped up in responding to every attempt to detonate, but I just can’t waste my caring on that, there are many other more important things to care about.

    I wholeheartedly agree.  I think an important part of the power of criticism (positive or negative) is being in relationship with the person you are criticizing.  If there is no relationship, then put the criticism aside.  The truth is... if they're concern is, indeed valid, someone you are in relationship with will bring it to your attention.

    What do YOU think?



    You can read more of James' thoughts here...


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    1. Leonard on Wed, March 24, 2010

      I agree.  Choosing your battles wisely is what we call it.

    2. JOB on Wed, March 24, 2010

      I agree partly.

      I haven’t met too many people that don’t listen to positive criticism from people they know and don’t know. 

      Neagtive criticism is harder to give with those that you know and like, even if it’s deserved.  We don’t like to threaten our relationships.  Human nature.  So, if the truth be told, those that don’t know us maybe the best ones to listen too.

      Also, if you’ve set yourself up as a well known speaker, blogger, author, this doesn’t apply.  Most of the people they communicate with are with people they don’t know.  So in effect you’re saying You listen to me, even though you don’t know me, but I won’t listen to you because I don’t know you.  With this attitude it always has baffled me why people continue to consume their stuff. 

      The bottom line, no matter how one wants to spin it, is the criticism true?  Even if a donkey says it, then listen.

      14 When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. 15 The anger of the LORD burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”  16 While he was still speaking, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?” So the prophet stopped but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”

    3. Fred on Wed, March 24, 2010

      For a lot of church leaders the ones they know are “fans” of the celebrity pastor or they are staff members who could be terminated or see their employment suffer for not “submitting” to leadership if they offered criticism. In those cases the only real criticism would be from people they do not know. An artist knows he can’t do a good job of critically looking at his work and he doesn’t get his mother to do it either.

    4. CS on Wed, March 24, 2010


      “Also, if you�ve set yourself up as a well known speaker, blogger, author, this doesn�t apply.  Most of the people they communicate with are with people they don�t know.  So in effect you�re saying You listen to me, even though you don�t know me, but I won�t listen to you because I don�t know you.  With this attitude it always has baffled me why people continue to consume their stuff.  “

      Well said, sir.  I will have to remember this one.


    5. Ken Eastburn on Wed, March 24, 2010

      I don’t think its as cut and dry as that.  For one, the people you know may all be infatuated with you or may be unwilling, for whatever reason, to criticize you.  Even more, this is a somewhat arrogant way to approach criticism and only guarantees that a leader will never have the opportunity to lead criticizing strangers - how could he if he just dismisses their criticism?

      A better test of whether a criticism should be considered is whether it is true.

    6. brees jersey on Thu, March 25, 2010

      No doubt that criticism do affect our life. We should say thank you to the guy who gives criticism (positive or

      negative), for it shows that he/she cares about you. No matter whether we recieve the criticism wholeheartedly, we should

      think about the reason why the guy gives such critisim. Like Drew Brees, althrough he tried his best when wearing

      jerseys, still lots of persons give him criticism, but Drew Brees should feel proud for there are so many people love


    7. Leonard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      Who or what is it really about?  This is one of the main issues of criticism.  Critical Christians seem to have some common traits.

      A wound - somewhere they were hurt and this wound colors everything they see and hear.  A woman at my church Sunday, because of a wound in her past, missed an entire sermon over one sentence.  And it was not even the sentence it was how she understood the sentence.  Guess what the filter was?  Her wound.

      A bad relationship with a Dad - People put their disappointed and frustration with a parent on pastors.  They will start off loving them and when the pastor is too direct, too blunt or too human, they criticize. 

      A giant lack of self awareness � Critical people are often very unaware how people see them.  They take the compliments of people and this justifies their criticism.  A lack of self awareness is evident in how one listens.  If you find yourself knowing what someone is going to say before they say it� you probably lack self awareness.  If you see your opinions as incredibly insightful and when people do not agree they are wrong� you probably lack self awareness.  If most or many of your relationships are one sided, you probably lack self awareness.  And most people who lack self awareness never know it because they lack self awareness. 

      A problem with authority � Let�s face it, people do not like being told what to do.  Over the past many years of ministry, I have found that the most critical people I have encountered have a problem with authority.  I have also found in my own life that when I am most critical it can be traced back to this issue, struggling with authority.  It is why we rarely criticize people who have no authority and attack those who do.


    8. Jerry on Thu, March 25, 2010

      I don’t know James McDonald personally, but I listen to him on the radio quite often. He doesn’t know me, my background or anything about me, so why would he care about my criticism, or praise for that matter? Also, because I don’t know him or what he has gone through, how can my criticism be valid unless it has to do with a misuse of scripture, or a faulty, self-promoting message? I can say I like him or not, agree with him or not, and that is okay, but to flat-out criticize what he does or how he does it is just stating a personal preference.

      He can take this stance because, I believe, he is in relationship with people he has given permission, (if not downright commanded) to give him honest, straightforward criticism. I don’t believe one can truly call another ‘friend’ unless one is willing to give and receive constructive criticism to each other.

      He probably gets all the encouragement and criticism he needs from those he knows and trusts, so the need to care about strangers’ comments is very low. I would also think he applies this attitude to compliments as well. What strength does a compliment have from a fool? Not to say that those who give comments to him are fools, but he has no way of knowing if they are or not.

    9. Richard on Thu, March 25, 2010

      So much of criticism is really a matter of personal opinion or preference.  I’ve had critical people get mad at me because either I didn’t agree with them or change.  What passes as criticism much of the time is really someone projecting their baggage onto another.  McDonald’s points are well made.  Once {I was in a certain mood} I asked a critic, “What happened in your upbringing that made you such a critical person?”  When that got back to my leadership board, it really got the conversation started.

    10. JOB on Thu, March 25, 2010

      “Who or what is it really about?”

      Good question.  The shift that has been made within the recent past years,  Pastors that now view themselves as Leaders of organizations instead of shepherds of the flock.  “Critics” stand in the way of vision, vision is the method that moves the organization.  You can’t have both, “critics” and “vision”.  A shepherd of the flock can deal with it.  Not the leader of an organization.

      Excellent question.

    11. drew brees jersey on Fri, March 26, 2010

      Criticism is important for a individual to keep clear about what he is and what position he is in.It keeps him from arrogance.It reminds him of what his job and his duty is . As a leader,he should not be self-centered. A leader should be concerned about his staff and give them spaces to think and decide.
      Like Drew Brees,a football star.He is good at his game and he may decide the competing strategy of the game when he wears his drew brees jersey
      . But he still has to consider other teammates and work hard together to win the game.

    12. Leonard on Fri, March 26, 2010

      Shepherds are leaders.  A good shepherd always leads his flock. Far too many sheep want the shepherd to take care of them but do not lead them to sacrifice, obedience, surrender and a life of discipline.  Feed me but don’t lead me is the MO of too many sheep in this country. 

      Bay far, after almost 30 years in ministry, the criticism I have received most is not over vision but rather we have a generation of sheep that love to grow but refuse to mature.  When the leader/shepherd says, let’s press to maturity the sheep criticize.  When I have received criticism over vision is has 100% of the time been about reaching the lost, pressing to maturity in Christ and connecting with God’s people. 

      Americans do not like leaders, it is why we do not elect very many of them.  We were built on “you’re not the boss of me” and we still live that way.  When someone does lead, we get our undies in a wad and… criticize.

    13. Jerry on Fri, March 26, 2010

      Funny thing how most of the criticism comes from those who aren’t involved. Those with their feet in the trenches and doing the work rarely have time to criticize, but they do make time to have discussions on how to do things better, reach more people, and encourage one another in their respective functions. Real leaders like it when someone offers a suggestion that benefits the organization, whether it’s a church body or a business.

    14. JAN on Sat, March 27, 2010

      Good insightful comments Leonard, thank you.
      I think what hasn’t been mentioned is the word constructive.
      If criticism is given in love it will help the individual.

      Too many times people who have criticism to offer, offer little else.
      And they usually go about it in a negative way.

      How many times do we hear critical comments via someone else they told first?  or how about those nasty emails…wow THAT’s helpful.

      Or the annonymous note shoved under the office door or put into the offering plate?

    15. Christopher Fontenot on Sat, March 27, 2010

      The ONLY criticism, good or bad, that anyone should heed in the realm of ministry is that which is backed by Scripture.  I attended a large Baptist church in Baton Rouge and the very first message I heard their pastor preach was an open rebuke of the congregation!  The members there are elderly and are set in certain traditions as Baptists usually are.  They had recently installed a new worship leader who was mixing contemporary worship music with the beloved hymns of the old guard. Some of the members were not impressed and were telling members of the choir and orchestra that what they were doing was sinful. They wanted a more “traditional” sound to the worship music.  This criticism got back to the pastor who then proceeded to open Scripture and show them by Psalm 150 that even their “traditional” worship was not truly traditional.  He even pointed out that Baptists should actually praise God with DANCING!!!

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