Wednesday, April 09, 2008

HOW TO HANDLE NEGATIVE MAIL

Receiving negative mail was a shock to my system. The letters signed “Anonymous” were treacherous for an insecure, living-in-a-glass-house, feeble little man. I’m such a cry baby anyway and these things did me in. A small percentage of members feel quite free to let us have it. They seem to believe it their duty.

I found myself fighting for air. Harsh criticism was probably embellished by my own lack of confidence. However, unsigned letters are signal enough the writer intended damage. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:

  • Practice Philippians 4:4-9. Think about all of the good letters, the great phone calls, the majority who support you. Replay those; not the negative ones.
  • Relax. The writer might be right. He might be wrong. Learn from the things you need to adjust and put the rest out of your mind. Focus on Philippians 4:4-9.
  • Don’t do what the writer is doing….rehashing the negatives. Here’s an exercise I would do: I would take positive inventory. Am I tumor free? Did I get a pay check last week? Do I have close friends who love me? Did I sleep on the street any time within the last year? Is my car running well? Do we have indoor plumbing? Did my kids each come with arms? I would make up a list of gratitudes and think on them.
  • What’s the worst thing they can do? Fire you? I had to consider this many times as such threats were verbally expressed to me on occasion. I had to conclude that if such were to happen I would survive…somehow.
  • Read Matthew 5:10-12 and ask yourself why you think you should be the exception to Jesus’ rule. Why is it you think persecution ended when the Bible was completed (uh-oh…I just threw in a wrench).

Dear young leader, the kingdom of God’s icon is the cross; the blood-splattered kind. If people are mean to you, wake up! You are being verified by the Spirit of God that you are in the real deal. What we don’t want is the very thing we must have to effectively grow…..struggle. Don’t try to get over it. Learn to walk through it.

8 comments:

James said...

Terry,

I appreciate the balanced approach. It is important not to listen to negativity and let it get us down. On the other hand, it is easy to dismiss the very thing we need to hear. Jesus didn't say everything the Pharisees said was wrong but was critical of thier attitudes. I try to listen for God's voice.

Odgie said...

I have heard about this on more than one occasion from friends in the ministry. It is truly astounding to me that people who are so concerned about "church issues" are so ignorant of the simple matters that Jesus taught, such as how to confront. A sad commentary on the church.

craigallenhicks said...

Very good thoughts Terry. Full of wisdom. By the way, Amy and I loved, loved, loved Sunday's sermon.

Mike Riley said...

The eldership of which I'm a part has a simple policy regarding anonymous letters: they go in the trash unread.
If someone lacks the fortitude to sign their own criticism, we don't waste our time on it. Works really well.

Cindy said...

sorry to hear this...just remember you have your blogger fan club :-)

Tucker said...

What's worse than anonymous comments is people who tell everyone else what's wrong with me and leave me out. Thanks for this Terry. If they come at me with something that is constructive, I can take it, but, if they are venomous, then it must be their problem. I just hope God can have an impact on them since it's obvious I am not. Hang tough!

Anonymous said...

Terry, thank you for this encouraging article. Your years of tredging through to this maturity are gold to many of us. I pray I can see what you see someday. Remember, YOU ARE LOVED! Eddie

Dusty Rush said...

Alright, alright...I'll sign my letters from here on out! But admit it. You really had it comin' this time!