Serving in leadership exposes every area of our lives to the scrutiny of those we serve. It’s as if we live in a fishbowl. While the feedback we receive as leaders can be great incentives for us to strengthen our relationship with God, it can also be disheartening when our actions, goals, and very words are misinterpreted. We can feel unfairly treated. We’re tempted to jump out of the fishbowl to avoid further scrutiny.

The problem is God might not want us to leave ministry. He might want us to combat the fishbowl complex. Here are four tips to help.

  1. When confronted by a critic, respond with grace: “I appreciate your feedback, and I’ll pray about it.” Then actually pray about the situation. Ask another leader for prayer and input. When applicable, act upon what you learn. God consistently challenges us to grow. (Read Proverbs 15:1.)
  2. Find someone to mentor you. Mentors provide encouragement, challenge growth in new areas, and help keep fishbowl feedback in perspective. (Read Proverbs 23:12.)
  3. Resist the temptation to defend yourself. Pick your battles carefully and prayerfully. Let critics share their heart, and using discretion, share your heart in return. You might make a new friend. (Read Proverbs 26:20.)
  4. List the reasons you serve, and post them near your desk alongside your favorite verse. Remembering the “why” can bring clarity during times of discouragement. (Read Matthew 5:17.)


Melinda Adair serves as the ladies’ ministry director at Kennewick Baptist Church in Washington and assists her husband, Cliff, in the youth department. Her “free time” consists of wrangling her three fun-loving boys, writing, and investing time in future leaders.