Thursday, November 15, 2007

Criticism - I suck at taking it

Over the past few weeks, I've been asking members of our congregation to fill out questionnaires regarding the worship services. I was very careful to ask pointed questions to get very specific answers. I wanted to know, very specifically:

#1 Did you participate in worship

#2 Were the elements in the worship service helpful or hurtful to your participation.

What i didn't want to know was "I don't like this, or I don't like that." However, I found there were two kind of answerers:

#1 People who are filling out the questionnaires because I've asked them to and they want me to get a good grade on my paper

#2 People who don't like much of what we're doing ("Why can't we do it like we used to when Mike [previous pastor] was here [over 10 years ago]?") and so take the opportunity to write down how much they don't like certain things that we have planned.

So, I read these questionnaires and about 80% of them check all the nice answers, circle the highest number possible, and just generally say 'yes' to all the open ended questions, with a couple of really nice responses ("I just love the music!") And then about 20% of them are rather negative: "Bongos belong in a bar, not a church," "Worship should be quite and reverent - not loud and boisterous," "Why do we have to change the words to the Apostle's Creed," "I'm Presbyterian, and we don't have to show off our faith, my faith is quite and only for me." etc.

All I hear are these negative responses and they're just ringing in my ears and I take it all personally. I know that I cannot take them personally, because the changes and things that we've made to our worship over the past 3 years have not just been my choice - they've been made after serious deliberation among many people, and many people support these changes. Certainly there have been some elements that the Worship Planning Team planned for these 5 Sundays that in hindsight didn't work as well as we thought they might, and in the future we'd do something different, but they were decided on by the team and not me. So, why do I feel as if every negative comment is directly pointed at me? why do I feel it in the bottom of my gut as if someone were telling me that the way I wear my hear is rather ugly and prevents them from worshiping?

Oh, this is so hard for me. Why am I so fragile?

2 Comments:

Blogger Elaine said...

It's the blond highlights. Always blame the blond.

Elaine
Norman, OK

11:49 PM  
Blogger leah sophia said...

yep, the blond highlights--i've got them too! but a while ago i mentioned to someone that i suck at taking criticism, and immediately she pointed out 4(!) situations in which she'd observed me and told me i'd been very gracious. to that i replied, "those were valid criticisms; of course i did okay!" then she said, "no one likes invalid, etc. complaints, etc." Two Sundays ago we got major complaints about Lord of the Dance at the Heritage Service, but at least no one suggested it belonged in a bar. omigosh, LOTD is such a great moldie oldie. now that i'm at home i need to pick up the top book from one of these many overflowing piles of lit and play the meme you tagged me for.

7:55 PM  

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