by Jason Cruise
Nobody likes criticism. I laugh every time I hear the words "constructive criticism" because I know that right after those words come a rebuke, and one that is most always intense and personal!
In 2 Samuel 16 we find a man named Shimei doing something beyond brave. Brave would be merely protesting the king's leadership, but Shimei came out of nowhere when David was passing a road near his home and began to throw rocks as he cursed David's leadership as king. In fact, one of David's servants, Abishai, offered to go cut off Shimei's head, just to shut him up.
Most every other king in David's position would have given his servant the green light no doubt. The truth is, there have been many times I'd love to have had my own Abishai hanging around on my staff, as I'm sure negative comments would have seen a dramatic decrease. Nothing like having your own executioner to keep "constructive criticism" at bay!!
I'm sure you've seen leaders like that; I know I've seen leaders like that. I'll never forget the one pastor who told me that his staff "had never been this unified" in his tenure as lead pastor. Yeah, they were unified alright, because he'd fired about 10 people in the six years prior to that, as a signal of what happens when you dare to disagree with the senior pastor.
David did not use the razor sharp assets of men like Abishai, however. David basically listened to what Shimei had to say about his leadership and pondered the man's words. In effect, David ended up asking, "could he be right?"
Having been in ministry and leadership for over 20 years, I've seen my fair share of critics. My wife has forever been an asset to me, and one way it shows up is in those shattered times when such ego-demolition occurs. She'll gently say, "Let's try and see if there is actually any truth to it." I don't like her much in those moments. Not much at all. It hurts to do that sort of self-examination.
The truth is, every great leader knows that greatness doesn't come through blanket praise. Greatness is forged in struggle, and sometimes those struggles come in asking yourself, "could they be right?"