Criticism. It’s an ugly word that no one wants to use, but every one seems to participate in at some level. Criticism is the greatest tool that the enemy can use to wreak havoc on your youth ministry, church, family and any other area of your life. Now, we aren’t talking about constructive criticism – you, know, the kind that uplifts, encourages and gently corrects in love. Rather, we’re talking about the judgmental, back-stabbing, hurtful, mean-spirited, gossip-fodder thoughts that others have about us and each other.

Now, may be criticism isn’t a problem in your youth ministry. Maybe all of your teens are thriving and growing in the Lord, all the while learning to edify each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. If not, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. You see, criticism isn’t just a “teenager thing.” It isn’t excusable. Instead, it has the potential to stir up feelings of rejection, anger and resentment for the teens on the receiving in. No one wants to be a part of a group where they don’t feel at home.

So how do you address criticism in your youth ministry? We have some thoughts.

  • Dedicate a youth service to teaching your teens about Christ’s love in action. Talk about how the pharisees controlled the temple like bullies on a playground – bashing and scheming against Christ in a hateful way. Discuss the ways of Christ and how he ministered to and loved on people who the Jews would have looked down upon during that time. Ask the teens to reflect on the people in their lives who have been pharisees and talk about how they’ve felt when wrongfully judged. Teach them how to forgive their accusers. Then turn the tables. Ask the same teenagers how they think they may have been the pharisee to another person by using criticism and gossip to hurt them. Show them that they can change by repentance.
  • Lead by example. Yes, we’re pretty sure you  don’t criticize your teens or talk badly about anyone else in front of them. But, perhaps you could do a better job of encouraging them. Show teenagers that their words are powerful – not only when used negatively – but also when used positively. The Bible says that our tongues are capable of speaking life. Become a ball of encouragement who constantly uplifts, compliments and encourages everyone around you. Others will pick up on your edification, and the teens you lead will mirror your example.

 

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Filed under: Leaders Only

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