One of the things I like least about evangelicalism is the way that so often we don't help other people enough because we're scared of hurting their feelings by criticising them. I'll probably get thought some kind of unfeeling male fascist for this, but never mind.
If someone is in a position of Christian leadership, they should be a mature enough Christian so that their whole self-esteem isn't based on what other people think of their ability to lead. They should therefore be able to take criticism.
When people do criticise me honestly, lovingly and constructively, I find it really helpful for improving what I'm doing. One of the most important (maybe even the only important) skill I learnt in my teacher training was the ability to evaluate and be self-critical. I know I am not good enough at being willing to criticise honestly, lovingly or constructively.
Mark Dever offers five points for how to do criticism well, and they're well worth a read:
- Directly, not indirectly
- Seriously, not humorously
- As if it's important, not casually
- Privately, not publicly
- Out of love for them, not to express your feeling or frustration
His corollaries to each of those are also worth mentioning:
- Don't let people misread you
- Don't do it to try to make them like you
- Don't bother correcting unimportant stuff
- Don't make them worry what others think of them
- Sincerely encourage them where God is working
And am I secretly happy that this has knocked me saying why I disagree with the 39 Articles further down the page? Maybe.