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INTERPERSONAL CRITICISM AND THE CLERGY: A PSYCHOSOCIAL STRATEGY TO MITIGATE ADVERSE IMPACT

A Dissertation Presented to The Faculty of

Trinity Theological Seminary

In partial fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

By

Randy Garner, PhD
October 2009

Interpersonal Criticism and the Clergy: A Psychosocial Strategy to Mitigate Adverse Impact

Randall Garner, PhD

Read and Approved by:

__________________________________________ Elbert Elliot, Chairperson __________________________________________ Daniel Berger

___________________________________________ Stephen Williams, Vice President for Academic Affairs

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Copyright © 2009 Randall Garner All Rights Reserved. Trinity Theological Seminary may reproduce and disseminate this document with permission of the author in any form by any means for purposes chosen by the Seminary, including preservation and instruction.

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burnout. resulted in attitudinal and behavioral changes related to criticism. Study 2 confirmed and extended the information found in the focus group. Clergy members reported that poorly handled criticism can lead to job. and health issues. as well as a needed addition to seminary training. Study one involved a randomly selected focus group of clergy who reported that criticism adversely affects interpersonal relationships and can lead to stress. interpersonal.Interpersonal Criticism and the Clergy: A Psychosocial Strategy to Mitigate Adverse Impact Abstract Three-studies involving members of the clergy as participants found that interpersonal criticism can have deleterious consequence for those in the ministry. and was recommended as a continuing education session for practicing clergy. Study 3 presented an empirically-supported. iv . biblically-based. psychosocial intervention designed to assist members of the clergy in addressing the difficulties encountered in criticism-prone situations. relational. and early departure from the ministry. practitioner-focused. Follow-up evaluations found that the program was highly rated by the clergy-participants.

What Works? ………………………………………………. CRITICISM RESEARCH………………………………………….………….……. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW ……………………………….………………….. 15 Research Overview Summary ……………………. 18 2. Guidance from Acts 15 ………………………………………..……… 3. Guidance from Jesus …………………………………………...……….vii Chapters 1. Biblical Guidance and Advice ……………………………. Responding to Criticism …………………. 12 Hypotheses …………………………………………... BIBLICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS .…………….…… Research-Suggested Program Content …………...…. 9 Importance of empirical Evaluation …….. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ……………………………………………………………… v LIST OF TABLES ………………………………………………………………………..TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT ……………………………………………………………………………….………………. Guidance from Ephesians 4 ………………………………… 20 21 22 23 26 28 30 30 32 37 Guidance from Proverbs ………………………………………. 1 Current Study ……………………………………………………. 38 v ... 14 Considerations and Delimitations ……………. Giving Criticism …………………………………………….

... 95 14. 45 Study 1 Methods …………………………………………………. 40 5..Summary ……………………………………………………………... STUDY 2 DISCUSSION …………………………………………………… 76 11..…………… 123 APPENDIX C: Outline of Criticism Management Training ……… 124 APPENDIX D: Post Intervention Questions …………………………… 126 vi ....... PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSIDERATION OF CRITICISM…….. STUDY 1 RESULTS …. STUDY 3 OVERVIEW …………………………………………………. STUDY 3 RESULTS ………………………………………………...... STUDY 1 DISCUSSION ………………………………………………….... 60 8..…….... GENERAL DISCUSSION ………………………………………………… 99 REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………......………………....… 80 Study 3 Methods …………………………………………………... 39 4... STUDY 1 OVERVIEW ……………………………………………………...... 89 13.... 64 Study 2 Methods …………………………………………………... STUDY 3 DISCUSSION …………………………………... 108 APPENDIX A: Ministerial Interpersonal Skills Survey ……. STUDY 2 RESULTS ………………………………………………………… 67 10.... 81 12... 65 9. 49 Focus Group Conclusion Statements ……………………… 59 7....... STUDY 2 OVERVIEW ……………………………………………………..... 118 APPENDIX B: Interpersonal Criticism Scale ……………..………....... 45 6..

68 2. Comparison of Respondent‟s Perceptions of How Most People (In General) Versus Members of the Clergy Offer and Receive Criticism. Respondent‟s Denomination Affiliation ………………………………………. Received Personal Criticism in Last Year ……………………………………. 71 4. Mean and Standard Deviations for Each of the Follow-up Survey Attitudinal Questions and Items ………………………………………………… 92 vii . Mean and Standard Deviations for Each of the Immediate Feedback Attitudinal Questions and Items ………………………………………………… 89 8. 69 3. 73 6.LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. Essential Interpersonal Skills Identified for Clergy ………………………. 74 7. Perceived Consequences of Destructive Criticism ………………………… 72 5. Attitudinal Measures of Criticism ……………………………………………….

which is often viewed as being personally motivated (Friedman.Chapter 1 Interpersonal Criticism and the Clergy: A Psychosocial Strategy to Mitigate Adverse Impact Interpersonal skills such as the facility to handle interpersonal criticism are among the most important abilities necessary for success in various professions. Patton. discourage. anger. 2005) found that clergy experienced considerable stress as a result of receiving criticism from the congregation and this was identified as one of the top reasons individuals left the ministry. such as dealing with criticism. 2006. 2008. “Criticism and conflict „go with the territory‟ in professional ministry” (Rediger. Criticism can injure. and cause pastors to leave the ministry prematurely. & Heen. p. The tasks associated with the role of the minister can conflict with relationship roles that can manifest in the form of criticism. Theorell. Hogue and Wenge (2003. 1 . showed the strongest correlations with increased burnout. members of the clergy are not immune from the difficulties or stresses associated with criticism and criticismprone situations. Tidd. 2001). 2000). Most pastors struggle with criticism (Goodall. 1997. The inability to deftly handle receiving and giving criticism can give rise to a host of potentially adverse consequences (Garner. McKown‟s (2002) study of 122 members of the clergy demonstrated that interpersonal conflict. Currall. Not surprisingly. Hyde. 35). 2000). & Tsai. Jappinen. including the clergy (Robinson. As part of the Pulpit and Pew Project at Duke University. Stone. 2003). & Oxenstierna.

Malony. “the most stressful experience of the 17 items presented. and clergy (Ferguson. Similarly. and the likelihood of leaving the ministry. 482). as well as criticism about their devotion to the ministry and to their faith. Jinkins (2002) suggests that “pastors consistently report that interpersonal conflicts…were among the more difficult aspects of pastoral leadership” (p. 1988). According to Lee. 2008. 13). had been experienced by 46% of the sample at an average of twice in the last six months” (p.depression. Using principal components analysis and a varimax rotation to determine groupings of stressors. Greenberg. with the most common causal denominator being stress associated with interpersonal conflicts. face-to-face criticism. Rayburn. Richmond. healthcare providers. 488). Lee (1999) assessed a sample of 312 ministers using the Ministry Demands Inventory (MDI). This included criticism from a congregant leader. and Rogers (1986) found that ministers “have the highest overall occupational environmental stress and vocational strain and next to the 2 . being criticized by someone in a leadership position in the church. In fact. factor loadings revealed that the most significant issue identified was personal criticism. 1990. Lee concludes that “ministry burnout appears to be more strongly related to the experience of personal criticism than other categories of demands” (p. This was consistent with Mills and Koval‟s (1971) earlier work which examined 500 protestant clergy and concluded that the majority had experienced strong negative stressful experiences. The adverse consequences associated with chronic stress and burnout is higher in specific occupations such as social workers. police officers.

resignations. 2000). Gay. they do not seek or find available appropriate resources that would help them to ameliorate the impact of such stressors. In other words.lowest scores in overall personal resources” (p. & Rogers. Ellison. 2005) and was a significant factor contributing to increased interpersonal stress and burnout. Additionally. and increased ratings for burnout. 3 . Grosch & Olson. however. DeLuca. the inability to effectively handle criticism has been identified as one of the top three reasons involved in terminations. Many in the clergy find it difficult to discuss the need to ask for such assistance. Hill. and early departures from a career (Garner. 1980. Darling. Lee and Iverson-Gilbert (2003) found that the impact of personal criticism on a sample of over 300 members of the clergy was strongly related to negative ratings on well-being and overall life satisfaction. 540) (Also see Richmond. 1985. & Glass. 2008). Those who struggle to effectively handle interpersonal criticism are less likely to report strong satisfaction in their careers. Rayburn. 1989. the stress associated with interpersonal criticism was rated as one of the highest occupational stressors and resulted in a number of reported deleterious health consequences. and McWey (2004) found that stress associated with interpersonal factors such as criticism was directly and inversely related to quality of life issues for members of the clergy. 1985). as they are concerned they will be viewed by their congregation as being professionally inadequate (Blackbird & Wright. In a study that assessed the impact of criticism on vocational issues (Garner. ministers are experiencing significant stressors resultant from their pastoral positions.

Hogue and Wenger (2005) suggest that interpersonal issues such as poor criticism management. personal criticism is felt more deeply and is reported as having a more significant effect on the psychological and physical well-being of the minister. 271). “can be viewed as reflecting one‟s personal identification with and functioning in the pastoral role” (p. As a result. According to Becker (1999) criticism is often at the root of conflict between the clergy and the congregation. Lee (1999) found that this was a relatively rare occurrence.. 1997). Lee and Iverson-Gilbert (2003) note that although issues such as unreasonable expectations and time demands are encountered more regularly by members of the clergy. were most likely to result in stress and end a pastor‟s career early.g. Although the popular press literature is filled with anecdotes regarding parishioners questioning a pastor‟s devotion (e. research suggests that the main conflicts experienced by those who left the ministry could best be described as “garden variety” or “everyday” issues. rather than doctrinal differences or hot-button issues such as homosexuality. This suggests that when such events are poorly or inadequately handled. Beebe (2007) suggested that interpersonal conflict. the lay leadership. More likely the sting of personal and family criticism was involved. they can create potentially disastrous results.Interestingly. Rediger. such as interpersonal criticism. poorly crafted criticism can cut to the quick of an individual‟s sense of self-worth and have potentially devastating effects. and the 4 . According to Rediger (1997) it is easy for seemingly small complaints to become criticisms of the pastor if not properly handled.

denominational administration; however, little has been done to empirically assess the effects or address a potential remedy. A number of studies involving clergy as participants have examined the demands of the vocation on issues such as burnout, stress, conflict, and so forth; however, few have specifically and empirically addressed the potentially negative consequences of interpersonal criticism on members of the clergy or empirically examined a strategy for reducing criticism-prone conflict. Lee (1999) suggested a decade ago that the impact of interpersonal criticism among the clergy needed much more attention. Mueller and McDuff (2004) offers that the “relationship between a minister and the congregation has received only limited attention in the sociological literature. As a consequence, we know less about how working conditions affect the…clergy than we know about the satisfaction of the working population in general” (p. 268). Henry, Chertok, Keys, & Jegerski (1991) noted that “little attention has been paid to the role and social context of pastoral ministry in research on ministerial stress” (p. 932). Similarly, McKown (2002) concluded that hazards such dealing with criticism and conflict are talked about in seminars and books for pastors, however, there is currently a paucity of empirical data. One reason that the clergy-criticism phenomenon does not receive adequate attention is that clergy are faced with a role-expectancy conflict. Although clergy report that criticism is one of the biggest stressors (much more so than organizational issues or matters of theology), many ministers suffer in silence because they have been conditioned that they should be able to handle

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criticism better. Clergy are prone to the social desirability phenomena and many will not admit to role overload, role insufficiency, or role strain (Beebe, 2007; Kennedy, Eckhardt, & Goldsmith, 1984; Rayburn et al., 1986). Pastors know this is a problem, but are unwilling to expose this concern for fear that they are not being consistent with their role or their calling. They want to appear to remain consistent with their vocational expectation—yet often do not have sufficient and practical skills for addressing the topic of interpersonal criticism (Grosch & Olsen, 1991, 2000). Indeed, the general public often stereotype clergy as being very satisfied with their job, as these individuals are ostensibly following a calling and have self-selected to be in the ministry (Mueller & McDuff, 2004). However, research has found that clergy job satisfaction is not always high and clergy feel “morally constrained” to understate their dissatisfaction (Mueller & McDuff, 2004; Rose, 1999). Additionally, research suggests that pastors may tend to compartmentalize their various roles (Rodgerson & Piedmont, 1998) and may not use scriptural or religious coping strategies in their administrative or work environments. The pastor may be a “different person” with the congregation on Sunday than with the church staff on Monday. This role ambiguity and compartmentalizing can have consequential results for the clergy, the congregant, and the staff. Interpersonally, the minister can be in a psychological paradox by engaging in expected and accepted behavior in one situation that fulfills their public, pastoral role; however, they may find themselves operating from a different view of “self” in other, less formalized situations. The potential

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schism that could result can lead to significant interpersonal conflict and adverse psychological manifestations (Hall, 1997; Krause, Ellison, & Wulff, 1988). Unfortunately, neither the seminary nor most denominational administrations are providing the type of practical training that could help. According to Hogue and Wenge (2005) “many ex-pastors speak with considerable passion about inadequacies in their seminary education and of the insensitivity and lack of support that they receive from their denominational officials and the lay leaders of the church” (p. ix). In fact, results from the “Pulpit and Pew project” at Duke Divinity School found that “conflict with denominational officials” was the second most common reason offered for why members of the clergy decided to or were required to leave local church ministry. Hoge, Dyble, and Polk (1981) suggested that denominational officials should offer more specific training in general conflict management for their ministers in order to enhance career development and vocational commitment (also see Blanton, 1992; Gilbert, 1987; Hogue & Wenge, 2005; Kieren & Munro, 1988; McKown, 2002; Morris & Blanton, 1994a, 1994b). Frame and Shehan (1994) urge denominational administrations to offer interpersonal skills training to address the problems associated with such stressors, for both the minister and their family. Hugghins (2007) indicates that while there is some general seminary training on broad conflict resolution issues, it is mainly targeted to mediating conflicts between others or addressing challenges to doctrinal issues. According to Hugghins, little specific training or discussion in handling the difficult area of interpersonal criticism is received in most seminaries. He adds

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8 . In fact. Morris and Blanton (1998) called for prevention and intervention programs to assist clergy and their families to address the stress of issues such as interpersonal criticism (also see Morris & Blanton. Richmond. In a study of over 4. 1983. Hall (1997) reports that “interpersonal deficits” in coping skills and relational matters. pastors. Furthermore. such as effectively handing criticism.that a well-targeted course on criticism management would be welcomed by most clergy and that assistance in better addressing interpersonal criticism could be vital. Kaldor and Bullpit (2001) found that those who were poorly trained to handle social and interpersonal stressors had a much higher risk of burnout. are associated with an abundance of psychological problems experienced by pastors. To be most effective. Accordingly. 1986).000 senior ministers. Hogue and Wenger (2005) found that many of the issues that eventually derailed clergy careers could probably have been resolved with better awareness and training. they suggested that congregations should be educated as to their collective impact on the well-being of the clergy and the clergy‟s family. Rayburn. and priests. 1982. Similarly. & Rogers. Hall recommends that enhanced interpersonal and relational training should to be addressed early in a pastor‟s career. 1994a. They particularly noted the need for support programs that allow opportunities for clergy to receive positive feedback and criticism in an environment that can be beneficial for all involved. there is a commensurate need for appropriate interventions. 1994b.

2006. This approach addresses some of the methodological weakness of other reports that involved single-case studies. speak loudly to the need for more study and research. coupled with the known deleterious health effects of criticism-based stress (Garner.. 2008. & Francis. 255).Lee and Iverson-Gilbert (2003) suggest that if we want to extend the career longevity of our pastors. Current Study The present series of studies attempts to address a number of the concerns identified above. Nowack. intervention that focuses on mitigating the adverse consequences involved in criticism and criticismprone situations for members of the clergy should be considered essential. we must “teach clergy how to anticipate criticism. The seminary should provide interpersonal skills training that are needed “to thrive in the social context of congregational ministry” (p. 1989). and respond constructively” (p. empirically consistent. 255). the development of a well-targeted. Turton. Additionally. opinion. These important issues will be addressed with the current research. Hyde et al. The social and psychological issues discussed above. as well as the manifestation of clergy burnout and premature departure from the ministry. Unfortunately. Lewis. or 9 . little has been done to address this important issue. understand what it means personally and professionally. 2007. This research empirically examines the self-reported perceptions and expressed impact of interpersonal criticism on members of the clergy using both a randomly selected focus group and a randomly distributed survey instrument.

psychologically. Study 2 builds upon the information gleaned from study 1. This group. ostensibly resulting in greater generalizability of the findings. The instrument is designed to better assess the implications of offering criticism and receiving criticism in the lives of the clergy. Specifically. comprised of member of a large metropolitan ministerial alliance. the focus group was queried regarding the needed elements in creating a criticism management program designed specifically for the members of the ministry. The goal is to provide insight from members of the clergy in how they view and respond to criticism. The intervention was empirically assessed and a pre and post participation measure was statistically evaluated. study 1 involves an empirically sampled focus-group of members of the clergy. psychosocial educational program that is theoretically. a minister-centered. Additionally. in conjunction with the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). can provide unique insight into the impact and implications of interpersonal criticism in the lives of the clergy. The information derived from the focus group is used in the development of an assessment instrument that allows further analysis of the impact of interpersonal criticism to a larger population of clergy. The goal of the program is to help participants mitigate some of the adverse consequences associated with criticism-prone situations. study 2 involves a survey of members of a metropolitan ministerial alliance. as well as the 10 . and biblically sound was developed and administered to a group of clergy.anecdotal information. Specifically. Additionally. This approach will allow for greater methodological evaluation of the process and responses.

stress. more importantly. In conjunction with the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group. study 3 entails the development of a specifically focused educational module for members of the clergy designed to deal with issues related to criticism and criticism-prone situations. The goal of the module is to help ministers to more effectively give criticism. Study 3 involves the actual creation and presentation of the Criticism Management for Clergy program. and so forth. therapists. This provides for a more methodologically robust evaluation of the intervention and greater confidence in the generalizability of the findings. and to consider ways to solicit productive criticism from others. adding both increased methodological rigor and validity to the process. The survey instrument was sent to a large random sample of clergy members. The intervention materials draw heavily from the psychosocial literature. The training session was created based in part on specific information gleaned from studies 1 and 2. The training program was administered to a random selection of members of the clergy chosen from a list developed in conjunction with the ministerial alliance. vocation. to better assess and respond to received criticism. The terminal goal of study 3 was to determine if the participants report that the information was useful and.impact that criticism may have on their well-being. educators. and members of the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group. as well as the input of the Program Advisory Council (PAC) comprised of psychologists. if the training had a tangible 11 . The program is tailored to address the identified needs of the clergy who comprise the study population— the ministerial alliance.

medicines. empirical study. In order to remedy this problem and refrain from exposing clergy and others to potentially flawed strategies. It is important to more carefully empirically assess the impact of criticism on the clergy and ensure that evocations offered for addressing criticism-prone situations are supported by a methodologically robust. appropriate academic study of this area must move beyond the level of face validity and be examined with more methodologically sound designs. Literally hundreds of once promising therapies. despite being once touted as an effective approach. and interpersonal analyses have been unable to withstand the scrutiny of empirical review.impact on their daily interactions and concomitant interpersonal factors. Although such sources may seemingly offer sound advice on how best to handle criticism. Clergy Killers). Behavioral therapies (including anger management techniques and conflict management techniques) have also fallen short.. or remove information as the findings dictate. what is clearly missing is the theoretical development and experimental testing of intervention strategies and resultant information. This latter assessment involved a post-training follow-up survey that was administered approximately six weeks after the training intervention. lethal at worst—some resulting in significant suffering. Importance of Empirical Evaluation There are many publications that directly or indirectly address the issues of criticism and conflict in the ministry (e. reframe. For example. dozens of once-heralded medications were later found to be ineffective at best. 12 .g. having failed the test of analysis and review. Such study will allow us to affirm. in the past few years.

a small number of participants. Kairos Institute). In an extensive review of the literature. much of what has been reported involves single-shot cases studies. As indicated by others (Hogue & Wenge. there has been nothing published in the peer-reviewed literature that evaluates the types of programs or advice offered to cope with interpersonal criticism. 1998). There is no assessment as to whether programs and materials available today are providing properly targeted counsel or if they are filled with information based on folklore. however. 1999.From an academic perspective. As McKown (2002) and others correctly point out. or anecdotal supposition. Similarly. Several studies have identified relevant issues related to clergy—although this was a resultant by-product of other areas of research such as clergy burnout. 2002) there is a paucity of research in this area and what has been done is often plagued by methodological concerns. there is no shortage of popular press books and programs (e. there were few peer-reviewed academic articles that have extensively focused on the implications of interpersonal criticism as related to the clergy. there are no identified peer-reviewed journal articles that have assessed strategies to ameliorate the adverse impact of criticism. Alban Institute. unsubstantiated opinion.g. McKown. 13 . the difficulty with the current literature on this topic as it relates to clergy is that there are few sound methodological evaluations of the issue or the suggested response (Rodgerson & Piedmont. inadequate approaches. 2005. or an unrepresentative sample that limits generalizability. Additionally. or harmful advice. Lee.

The deleterious effects of interpersonal criticism among members of the clergy have not been well addressed in the research literature. several hypotheses are suggested: Hypothesis 1: Participants in the focus group and the survey sample of clergy will report that interpersonal criticism has a detrimental effect on their vocation. practitioner-focused. potentially impacting issues related to their quality of life and vocation. 2007). biblically-based. the proposed study goes beyond the typical “read-review-report” research scenario. The present study is designed not only to empirically assess the potential impact of interpersonal criticism on members of the clergy.The Importance of the Study This research agenda addresses a pertinent and needed area of study. it extends the salient information that will be gathered regarding this topic in study 1 and study 2 by creating a targeted intervention in study 3 with the objective of mitigating some of the negative consequences of interpersonal criticism. There are currently no peer-reviewed journal articles that provide this specific focus or offer an empirical evaluation of a methodologically robust intervention. psychosocial intervention to assist members of the clergy in addressing the difficulties encountered in criticism-prone situations. As a result. The Hypotheses Based on the review of the available literature and the tentative information provided in a beta analysis of clergy responses to relevant questions that preceded these studies (Garner. and their well-being (studies 1 & 2). 14 . The ultimate goal is to create an empirically-supported. their relationships.

Hypothesis 3: Participants will report that a criticism management training program designed to help better give. tangible benefits in handling criticism-prone situations as a result of attending the seminar (from pre to post) (study 3). As a result. Considerations and Delimitations In order to gain the acceptance of the ministerial alliance to conduct the described research. Hypothesis 4: Members of the clergy who partake in the biblically-based criticism management program. a compromise in questions and procedures necessarily 15 . A Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG) was created to facilitate this process. developed in conjunction with the PAC and the MAAG.Hypothesis 2: Participants will report that there are few adequate denominational or seminary resources available to better handle the issue of interpersonal criticism (studies 1 & 2). all questionnaires and materials were created with their direct involvement and vetted by representatives of the organization. will report that the skills and abilities identified in the session were beneficial in helping them to better address criticism-prone situations and are useful in mitigating the deleterious impact of criticism (study 3). assess. and receive interpersonal criticism would be beneficial for members of the clergy (studies 1 & 2). Hypothesis 5: Post-event analysis of the intervention participants conducted six weeks after receipt of the training will reveal lasting (beyond the after-glow of the actual training event) and statistically significant.

a balance must be reached in order to maintain a strong working relationship with the ministerial alliance and solidify their commitment to assist in this empirically-based research effort. and external validity (generalizing to a population similar to our group). Although the researcher might prefer different wording or to ask more varied questions. Beginning with a biblical basis for handling criticism. An outline of the program can be found in Appendix C. the goal is merely to determine if the training approach that was developed is “on the right track. The Criticism Management for Clergy training program (intervention) was developed with the input of the Program Advisory Council (PAC) comprised of psychologists. At this exploratory stage. Of course. As a result. Such an approach moves beyond mere face validity and offers greater content validity (a greater probability that the program is representative of the domain to be assessed).occurs. ecological validity (results are more likely reflective of real-world situations). This is an exploratory study of an issue that has not received important empirical attention in the literature. educators. the MAAG had the final approval over all materials employed. the primary goal of this effort is to see if the researcher can capture the self-reported impact of interpersonal criticism on members of the clergy and to develop an “informed” and theoretically sound intervention that can be helpful to the clergy-participants. this group vetted numerous resources. and practices that were deemed by the Council to have “strong utility” in the development of the program. and members of the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). techniques.” Subsequent research may better 16 . therapists. skills.

Conversely. issues. criticism was identified by members of the clergy as a more direct affront to ones sense of self. 2005). it was personal. minister. 2007) conducted for this study and was additionally 17 . and interpersonal conflict have all been used interchangeably with other terms such as interpersonal stress and criticism. but the more specific form of interpersonal criticism. Hogue and Wenge (2005) argue in favor of narrowly focusing on interpersonal criticism in future research as they view this as a subtype of conflict. pastor. Although conflict resolution and other terms have been used synonymously with criticism. 1989b). and so for. This is consistent with definitions offered by Robbins (1986) and Yukl (1989a. Descriptions such as conflict. clergy tend to identify a distinction. the term “conflict” has been defined in many ways and can be a broad and encompassing expression (Noll. According to Arendale (2006). Additionally. 2003. and components involved in the intervention. This is primarily done as a literary device to eliminate excessive repetition of a single term. Although different denominations can have very specific meanings for terms such as clergy. In the research conducted as a part of Duke University‟s Pulpit and Pew project. here we are focused not on the general concept of conflict resolution. for the purpose of this study these terms will be used interchangeably. conflict resolution.assess the individual contributions of topics. This finding was echoed in the beta survey of clergy members (Garner. However. clergy consider conflict resolution to refer to a formalized process to handle dispute between parties. in short. Sande.

Study 3 is the high point of this research effort. In conjunction with this researcher. including issues of frequency. to develop a sound and testable criticism management intervention. and to assess the efficacy of that program. and members of the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). as well as important elements that are needed for the development of a successful intervention. to develop a biblically based. this research is specifically focused on interpersonal criticism as identified by the clergy who comprise the study population. severity. rather than the larger (albeit related) area of conflict resolution. the PAC examined the findings in studies 1 and 2. The 18 . The goal of this study is to more carefully examine the selfreports of clergy in how they view and respond to interpersonal criticism. The goals is to gain a better understanding of the impact that criticism may have on members of the ministry. education specialists. psychologically sound intervention program to assist members of the clergy in handling criticism and criticism-prone circumstances more effectively. developing a survey instrument designed to assess the issue of interpersonal criticism among the clergy on a larger sample. A Program Advisory Council (PAC) was created and comprised of psychologists.supported in discussions with members of the MAAG. As a result. Research / Study Overview Summary Study 1 involves a focus-group of clergy who examine the self-reported impact of interpersonal criticism. The focus group provides valuable insight and guidance into the issue of criticism in the ministry. and adverse consequences. Study 2 builds upon Study 1. as well as voluminous relevant topic-related materials.

19 . The Criticism Management for Clergy curriculum was evaluated by the participants and follow-up assessments were conducted with the participants six weeks after delivery.biblical guidance is discussed in greater detail in chapter 3.

1988a.g. According to Baron (1988a).. Even though criticism is moderately infrequent. research suggests that it is very impactful on the interpersonal relationships of the parties involved. (These authors also comment on the sparse research available related to the topic of interpersonal criticism. 1988b. 241). & Taylor. Typical encyclopedic definitions of the term stress the connotative negatives (e. Ilgen. 1979) and is a term that almost immediately evokes a sense of apprehension (Garner. “to point out ones faults” or “to offer an opinion or judgment of what is wrong or bad about somebody or something”). “Those who received destructive criticism reported greater anger and tension and indicated that they would be more likely to handle future disagreements with the source through resistance or avoidance and less 20 . research suggests that the use of the term “destructive criticism” appears to be superfluous as that negative characteristic is considered to be endemic. 2006).Chapter 2 Criticism Research Relatively little empirical research has been done on the nature of interpersonal criticism. Criticism is universally considered by individuals to be negative (Baron.) Baron (1990) defined criticism “as negative feedback given by one person to another to inform the recipient that he or she was not performing in an adequate or appropriate manner” (p. Fisher. in any context. In fact. 2-3). Nomura and Barnlund (1983) define interpersonal criticism as “the expression of dissatisfaction concerning the personal qualities or behavior of another person that is offered in face-to-face dyadic encounters” (p.

Destructive criticism is less accepted and is perceived as less accurate by recipients (e. Cognitive processes play an important role in determining how individuals respond to criticism. 1979. attributes poor performance to internal causes. Studies indicate that the impact of criticism actually decreases performance (Baron.likely to handle disagreements through collaboration or compromise” (p. “poor use of criticism” was perceived as a more important cause of conflict that any other item (Baron. 1993. and reduces one‟s sense of self-efficacy. & Buckley. In contrast to constructive criticism. 199).. 1990. Eder. increases tension among the parties. contains threats. Ilgen. Recipients of criticism will 21 . Responding to Criticism Criticism is an “emotionally charged social interaction” and recipients are inclined to attribute the cause of the criticism event to the personal traits of the critic (Leung. 2001). Kluger & DeNisi. 1989. Liden & Mitchell. b) indicates that destructive criticism generates strong feelings of anger. Destructive criticism is an important cause of conflict in organizations. 1996). & Morris. 1981. 1985) and is often “inconsiderate in tone. and is general rather than specific in content” (Baron. & Fredrickson. et al. Su.. Snyder & Newburg. p. Annoyance-driven or destructive criticism breaches the goals of effective delivery (Furlong. 1988a). 2005. This can be due to the recipient focusing on the intent of the critic rather than on how to use the criticism to improve. Baron (1988 a.g. reduces appropriate goal-driven resolution efforts. intensifies ensuing conflict. In a study rating the importance of 14 potential causes of conflict in their organization. Fedor. 1981). Mitchell. Ilgen. 235).

Bresnahan. harmful at worst. Those who offer criticism are often viewed as biased and insensitive. 1986). The opportunity to express anger towards a critic seems to strengthen rather than reduce adverse effects and sets the stage for further costly interpersonal conflict. Brynjolsson. Baron (1990) reports that responding to a critic by expressing irritation actually increased their own negative reactions rather than ameliorate the circumstance. even when consciously trying to refrain from generating defensiveness in the recipient (Arygis. Whicker. others aggressively. The catharsis theory has been demonstrated to be ineffective at best. 1999. & Su. which may assist improvement and learning. 1985. which may help the recipient‟s ego.often make negative internal attributions about the character of the critic. and Hitt (2002) found that some individuals respond to criticism assertively. Lizzio. and Price (2003) and others have examined the elements of socially appropriate responses to unfair criticism in the workplace. Wilson. Individuals confronted with criticism often face a dilemma as to whether to attribute the cause of the criticism to their own performance inadequacy. Larrick. giving criticism was considered to be equally unpleasant. 1989) found that in addition to the difficulties encountered when receiving criticism. 22 . despite clear evidence that situational factors are involved (Morris. Pruitt & Rubin. Gallois. still others may move to silence as a response to receiving criticism. 1991). Giving Criticism Larson (1986. or to attribute it to the critic‟s personality flaws.

“Managers often refrain from criticizing subordinates until the frequency or severity of performance problems—and the mangers annoyance with them—rises to extremely high levels (Larson. The intervention included interpersonal skills training that specifically focused on the reception and delivery of criticism. Because there is a hesitance to offer criticism until reaching a threshold level. harsh. 1988). or sarcastic manner (Barron 1988a. as well as cognitive appraisal principles that examined contextual and cognitive redefinition of criticism-prone situations. p. Garner (2008) found that individuals who participated in a 16-hour criticism management program reported increased efficacy in dealing with interpersonal criticism and reduced adverse health-related consequences. Veiga. 1989)” (Baron.Those who offer criticism of others have noted that “their own use of criticism reduced the motivations of those they criticized and adversely affected their working relationships…” (Baron. 235). 1990). & Preston. 1990. Lepper. demeaning. when finally delivered. Managers report that offering negative feedback or criticism is one of the most difficult and unpleasant tasks they must perform (Garber. Larson. 1989. it is often delivered in a biting. Garner. 241). 1990. What Works? The “negative effects resulting from episodes of destructive criticism can indeed be reduced by interventions designed to change recipients‟ perceptions of. p. Previous research (Lord. 241). the source of such criticism” (Baron. 1984) suggests that both the givers and 23 . 2004. Heldmann. 2008. p. 1988) and many avoid doing so (Baron. or attributions about. 1990. p. 1986.

Those in the study who used this approach reported being less angry. and rated their critic as more fair. et al. Additionally. Cabane (2007) found that effective criticism must be specific. be offered in private. (2001) found that defensiveness is a major barrier to the effective use of criticism to bring about performance improvements (also see Leung. Smith. more acceptance of the feedback. 1180). and more favorable reactions towards the superior and organization” (p. Public criticism can be viewed as a power contest and may suggest the critic is 24 . et al. Baron‟s study found that “making fewer internal attributions about the critic was an effective approach in countering the negative effects of destructive criticism” (p. Treating others fairly in a criticism-prone situation “cushions the impact of the criticism by reducing the occurrence of negative dispositional attributions. and be positively framed. involve the collaborative establishment of clear goals. [it] elicits positive attitudinal reactions in its own right” (p. the criticism should. (2001) found that criticism “delivered with greater interpersonal fairness results in more favorable dispositional attributions about the supervisor. Wang. in most circumstances.recipients of criticism can benefit from thinking about criticism from different perspectives. Leung. 238). more happy. In a two-prong study. Leung. Personal consideration of the recipient of the criticism is “key” to more favorable reactions to criticism and those offering it. & Sun. Providing training that involves better cognitive appraisal of criticism and the critics may allow for recipients of criticism to “short-circuit” the usual negative progression of the criticism process. 1996). 1179).

1992). 2001) was a sound strategy to reduce unexpected and unanticipated 25 . Private criticism is better tolerated as it suggests the critic is attempting to preserve the reputation of the recipient. and who can offer a clear explanation for the criticism are viewed as more just and their criticism is better accepted (Lind. and based on faulty information” (Garner. 1988). Lissak & Sheppard. Roth. & de Vera Park. & Earley. undeserved. Lind. Kanfer. Farr. Leung et al. Pritchard. Jones. who know their facts. Research finds that critics who judiciously collect all relevant information. (2001) found that private criticism offered by a high-status. 1983. Task-related criticism can be beneficial and improve performance on a wide range of tasks (Landy. Ambrose. The goal is to focus on the actions that are in need of adjustment. not the actor. & Jacobs. 1990. 50). Additionally. Kulik. 2006. 1983). 1982. Individuals will actively attempt to elude attempts at public correction to avoid the appearance of incompetence (Ashford & Northcraft. & Ekeberg. knowledgeable critic was more favorably viewed. Individuals respond better to criticism that is carefully researched and thoughtfully delivered. 1993. Stuebing. Seeking criticism from respected and trusted others—rather than waiting for external events to manifest—can be particularly helpful. Hobgood.intending to belittle or demean the recipient. Baron (1990) found that seeking criticism from others (also see Ashford & Cummings. criticism that focuses on personal or professional improvement rather than the personality of the recipient is better received. p. “Nothing could be worse than offering criticism that is unwarranted.

and (h) monitoring ones own emotional contributions in the criticism process. (d) clarity in the communication of the criticism. In receiving criticism. several elements emerge that warrant consideration in developing a sound criticism management module. particularly in searching for or considering alternative 26 . Because one is actually seeking such criticism. the individual will clearly be better prepared to receive the information. (g) directing comments to actual behavior. and the circumstance. not the personality of the individual. (e) positive. psychologically robust intervention program for members of the clergy. successfully delivering criticism should focus on: (a) effective listening.critical comments. “it may prove more effective to attempt to prevent the occurrence of destructive criticism rather than rely on efforts to blunt or counter its negative impact” (Baron. the time. p. In particular. 243). Actively soliciting criticism and evaluation allows one to pick the critic. Research-Suggested Program Components: The general findings of the relatively sparse academic literature cited within will be incorporated into a biblically-based. In fact. (b) conveying the information in private. the research suggests the following areas for incorporation: (a) better cognitive appraisal skills in evaluation criticism received from others. personal consideration of the other party in the delivery of criticism. 1990. (c) being knowledgeable of relevant facts and circumstance. (f) the psychological state of the recipient. Based on the limited research on the topic of interpersonal criticism. including the motivation and goal involved.

27 . (c) a better understanding of the automatic psychological biases that can easily occur in criticism-prone situations. These biblical considerations are addressed in the next chapter. (b) increased emotional awareness and control. (d) better tools for effectively responding to interpersonal criticism.explanations or considerations. These research-based elements will be combined with other suggestions offered by the PAC in the development of this program (discussed in study 3) and placed within a biblically supported framework that is essential to this project. as well as (e) a focus on consciously evaluating criticism events with an eye for personal and professional improvement.

The apostles were criticized and most were ultimately martyred because of disagreement. Elijah. and David all had their ardent critics. Jesus. Every person of God whose story is told with any level of detail in the Bible was likely the recipient of criticism. or his motives. the Bible is filled with those who were harshly criticized while doing the work of God. As a result. and criticism. 28 . yet he was constantly criticized. Although there are literally dozens of potentially relevant scriptural references. conflict. A strong biblical foundation is vital for this research effort. particularly in the development of the intervention program for members of the clergy. the greatest teacher. was criticized for his teaching— particularly by those who believed themselves to be deeply religious (Mat 9:3. Ironically. we will focus on those deemed most salient by the advisory and focus groups. Jesus himself was above sin.Chapter 3 Biblical Considerations in Handling Criticism The issue of biblical application to the area of interpersonal criticism is involved in the methodological considerations of this series of studies. These scriptures are foundational in the program development discussed in study 3. his actions. this chapter is dedicated to reviewing such principles and guidance. particularly those scriptures identified by our focus group participants (study 1). The suffering of Job offers a case study in judgment and criticism. Biblical Considerations of Criticism Criticism is an inevitability of life. Moses. He was even criticized by his own disciples who often misunderstood him. In fact.

He was criticized by soldiers.. but by the standard set by Christ himself: with the empathy and fairness of the Golden Rule (Mat 7:12) and with an expectation to freely and fully forgive others (Mat 6:12. Jesus remained silent (Mat 23:63. love. We are not to focus on the speck in the eye of another while ignoring the plank in our own. Jesus also provides direction regarding our behavior when we are offering criticism.” as Jesus was a role model for handling criticism redemptively.Mark. however. Interestingly. by the crowd. and humility. the “Do not judge” comments of Jesus are considered to be the most well-known 29 . then dismissed it (Mat 27:13-14). offering no response at all. and by one of the criminals crucified with him. we often engage in immediate and fervent defensiveness. 2:6-7. When questioned about his earthly mission. John 6:41-42). In his book on studying the parables of Jesus.g. when He was personally criticized. Jesus gives us important lessons on how to deal with criticism. Mat 27:11-12). Even during his last hours on the cross. Yet. Jesus listened without defense or response. for we too have sinned. We are cautioned not to judge others unfairly. how did Jesus respond? Jesus replied with forgiveness. Jones (1999) suggests that one could devise a life sermon from Luke 15:1-7 on “How to Handle Criticism. In doing so. At other times Jesus appraised the criticism and it source. truth. Jesus speaks with an awareness of our human tendency to be far more critical of others than we are of ourselves. In Mathew 7:1-5 Jesus reminds us not to blame or degrade others. Jesus often responded to criticism with scripture or used a parable to offer a teaching moment (e. Mat 22:15-22). When we are personally criticized. 14).

scriptural reference by most Americans (Geisler & Zukeran, 2009), yet are likely among those that are most misunderstood. The translation from the original language finds the term can mean either to evaluate—as it does in this context— or it can mean to condemn or despise. Jesus is not saying to refrain from making any assessment of another‟s conduct or character; he is saying do not condemn others with a critical, fault-finding mind-set. As is evidenced in the following verses, He is cautioning us that we must have the right spirit. If you judge others unfairly, you will be judged with that same critical, biased yardstick. That is why the apostle Paul writes to Timothy “Correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2). When we are positioned to offer criticism to others it should be with the proper mindset, attitude, and heart. Offering correction should be like the actions of a caring doctor, the purpose is to bring healing not strife. Biblical Advice and Guidance Although there are dozens of other biblical examples in how we might better handle criticism, three are particularly salient and were the scriptures most often confirmed by the Focus Group for this study. Guidance from James 1:19-20:
19

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow
20

to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

James (1:19-20) provides us with practical advice on how to deal with criticism. He gives us a three-prong approach: 1) Be quick to listen, 2) slow to

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speak, and 3) slow to become angry. Essentially, there are three God-given directives: we need to be active and attentive listeners, we must think before we talk, and we need to slow down our response—particularly as it relates to the emotion of anger; the often cited product of interpersonal criticism. Quick to listen: In the original Greek this phrase can be translated as being ready to grasp or understand. Considering that a substantial amount of criticism is often based on incomplete information or misunderstandings, to listen carefully seems to be a prudent admonition. Unless one is able to truly understand what the other is really trying to communicate, we do not have enough information to formulate a response—even if that response were to be silence. Of course this runs counter to our natural inclination—we often begin our defensive retort even before the other party has finished talking. We do this for many reasons, not the least of which is to regain our emotional equilibrium and begin to restore our often wounded sense of self. Unfortunately, all too often the actual grievance may not be clear or may be something completely different than the topic of the current criticism. We should strive; however, to be responsive and reflective, not reactionary. James is suggesting that we develop an attitude of reflective listening to gain greater insight into the true nature of the criticism and the critic. Slow to Speak: As the saying goes “we regret our words more than we regret our silences.” The literal meaning of this scriptural phrase in Greek is to deliberately meditate, consider, or contemplate our comments—rather than just blurting out whatever emotionally-triggered defensive comments may be

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brewing. Proverbs is filled with admonitions regarding our careless or harsh words. “He who holds his tongue is wise. He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (Prov 13:3). “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Prov 29:20). (Also see Proverbs 11:12; 12:18; 17:28; 18:21; 21:13; 34:13.) Clearly God is telling us something significant—repeatedly. Slow to Anger: James is telling us we need to have “long fuses.” We need to carefully listen, reflectively consider, and carefully respond. In the Greek the word we identify as anger has two roots. Both are destructive in the sense that one (thumos) involves the impulsive, rash, reactive anger; the other (orge) relates to resentful, lingering feelings that we harbor even long after the perceived attack or hurt has passed. Unfortunately, some experiencing the sting of this latter category will often outwardly appear to be handling the criticism acceptably; however, they are internally concealing a storm of emotional turmoil. Again, Proverbs offers further guidance: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (29:11). “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Prov 12:16). Finally, James reminds us that inappropriate anger does not bring about the life that God desires for us to have. Guidance from Acts 15: Chapter 15 of Acts offers particularly relevant advice on how best to consider criticism. The church in Antioch was involved in an intense dispute as to how Old Testament traditions were to be addressed by the Gentiles. Paul and

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you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria. When they came to Jerusalem. A notable member of this conflict was James the brother of Jesus—not an insignificant critic! Acts 15: The Council at Jerusalem Some men came down from Judea to : 1 Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised. "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses. demanding that the Gentiles must be Jews first. for he purified their hearts by faith. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed. to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. according to the custom taught by Moses. you cannot be saved. along with some other believers. Other Christian leaders disagreed. This news made all the brothers very glad. to whom they reported everything God had done through them. they were welcomed 4 by the church and the apostles and elders. They were not requiring Gentiles to follow Mosaic customs such a circumcision. Now 10 33 . Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers." 7 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said. they told how the Gentiles had been converted. just as he did to us.Barnabas. as well as Peter had been teaching and evangelizing among the Gentiles bringing many to follow Christ. He made no 9 distinction between us and them. showed that he accepted 8 them by giving the Holy Spirit to them. After much discussion. who knows the heart." This 2 brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. The church 3 sent them on their way. God.

from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. says the Lord. 13 listen to me. Its ruins I will rebuild. and all the Gentiles who bear my name. as it is written: 16 " 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Simon[a] has described to us how God at first showed his 14 concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself." 34 ." 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 19 "It is my judgment. why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We 11 believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved. 17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord. James spoke up: "Brothers. and I will restore it. that we should not make it difficult for the 20 Gentiles who are turning to God. The words of the 15 prophets are in agreement with this.then. telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols. When they finished. For Moses has been preached in 21 every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath. just as they are. from sexual immorality. who does these things 18 that have been known for ages. therefore. Instead we should write to them.

) If there is a problem go to the person directly. Mathew 18:15 offers related advice from Jesus. It was vitally important to talk to. Only after listening did others speak. 3. Peter spoke with great sensitivity and offered scriptural reasons that supported the position that Gentiles were not required to follow the Jewish customs. 35 . Listen to Each Other. They Met Face-to-Face. Verse 12 states that as Paul and Barnabas spoke “the whole assembly became silent as they listened. not about. 2. speak to them discretely in hopes that all can be resolved without an escalation. Yet only through carefully listening are we able to fully begin to understand the root issues that may need to be addressed. go and show him his fault. This was an extremely important matter involving long-held traditions and customs. In addition to the evidence of miraculous results offered by Paul and Barnabas. Empathetically listening also demonstrates respect and allows us more fully consider the positions of others.” They listened intently as they were told of the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. Meeting in-person shows respect and can help to minimize further misunderstandings and miscommunication. truly listening. Offer Clear Evidence Guided by Scripture. those involved. Several key elements are important to consider: 1. just between the two of you. Listening. ("If your brother sins against you.The manner in which this criticism-prone circumstance was handled offers biblical guidance for us. to another is a challenging proposition.

spoke—only after listening. As James finished his summary of the decision of the group. 4. and from the meat of strangled animals and blood) of Mosaic importance. Consider the Truths. Protect the Feelings of Others. This matter was a personally and culturally significant event that changed the course of the future. James. Despite having previously favored a different position. the brother of Jesus. Jesus often referred to scripture when he was confronted on matters of theological (but not personal) significance. He was able to do this because he carefully listened and reflected all that had been said. He reflected on what he had heard and on God‟s word. He considered the evidence without defensiveness and contemplated God‟s perspective. and Barnabas.Referring to scripture provides a standard that is greater than supposition. Recognizing this James offered that although they were not going to make it difficult for the Gentiles who were turning to God by imposing requirements of circumcision and other significant restrictions. he sought to protect the feelings of those Jewish sisters and brothers that did not prevail in this issue. Paul. After hearing all of the discussion and the evidence offered by those assembled. sexual immorality. Offering specifics regarding what guidelines or which rules are relevant provides clarity concerning the “yardstick” being used. he now offered a judgment that did not required strict adherence to all Jewish customs. In essence. 5. James 36 . including Peter. the Gentiles would be required to follow a few special rules (abstaining from food offered to idols.

doing something useful with his own hands. but must 28 work. along with every form of malice. that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. even if there was disagreement on the position. It would do little good to have an understanding among the elders that was not well communicated to others who were affected by the decision. Be kind and 32 37 . This decision was too important to leave to possible misinterpretation. brawling and slander. "In your anger do not sin"[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. 6. for we are all members of one body. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Communicate Clearly. rage and 31 anger. Finally. the apostles and elders drafted an unambiguous letter to be sent to the Gentiles so there would be no further confusion.communicated that he respected the views of others. Get rid of all bitterness. Guidance from Ephesians 4:25-32 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his 26 neighbor. and do not give the 27 devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer. that it may benefit those who listen. with whom you 30 were sealed for the day of redemption. The biblical principles in Acts 15 provide direction for the creation of a program geared to help members of the clergy more effectively deal with criticism.

Anger becomes destructive when it controls us or is used to punish or retaliate against others unjustly. if you accept criticism you are on the road to fame (Proverbs 13:18LB) 38 . removing all bitterness and anger. Jesus demonstrated flashes of anger (Mark 3:5. just as in Christ God forgave you. these are the appropriate uses of anger. We are called to be truthful.compassionate to one another. We must unmistakably know how our comments will benefit another before we speak. Guidance from Proverbs: Members of the focus group involved in this study also offered other scripture from Proverbs to focus on the importance of properly receiving criticism from others:   It is a badge of honor to accept valid criticism (Proverbs 25:12 LB). but to offer only that which can help others become better. we are instructed to be kind and compassionate. If you refuse criticism you will end in poverty and disgrace. not to allow festering anger (often the result of receiving criticism) to cause us to sin. to seek what is righteous. Note that Paul is not suggesting that we never become angry—as anger is a God-given emotion that can be used for good or evil. We are reminded of the forgiveness we experienced from Christ and how we must forgive others. Here Paul is offering very pragmatic advice about interpersonal relationships that directly apply to handling criticism. However. The Bible speaks of God‟s anger. John 2:13-17). Paul also cautions us not to speak ill of others. Finally. forgiving each other.

get all the help you can (Proverbs 23:12) Summary There are many Biblical examples of how we might better give and receive criticism. “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise rather than saved by criticism. As the great preacher Norman Vincent Peal observed.  “A soft answer turns away wrath. 39 . Deftly handling criticism is a difficult proposition.” (Proverbs 15:1).” One of the goals of this series of studies is to assist members of the clergy to reconsider interpersonal criticism in a way that will help to “save” them from its detrimental effects and consequences. Those listed above—the ones most confirmed by the focus group members—will serve as the backbone for our intervention for clergy discussed in study 3. Don’t refuse to accept criticism.

1997). 2001). 40 . The psycho-sociological processes involved are inextricably linked to key physiological reactions that impact how we perceive and react to criticism-prone situations. this comes at the cost of vital oxygen-enriched blood to less immediately essential areas of the body—namely the higher-order brain processing centers. we are operating at a physiologically diminished capacity to do so. the body begins dumping adrenaline into the system and engages the process of diverting blood to the large muscle groups (e. arms. 1976.Chapter 4 Psychological Considerations of Criticism In addition to a strong biblical and spiritual base. Unfortunately. The brain has difficulty distinguishing between a physical threat and a psychological one—the physiological reaction is relatively similar. their safety. the body can engage the fight or flight response (Selye.g. Maslach. at the very time we should be more carefully cognitively assessing the criticism trigger. Without clear and conscious intent. Psychologically. As a result. 2005.. legs) in preparation for fighting or fleeing. and so forth (Garner. As a result. any proposed intervention or program designed to ameliorate some of the deleterious effects of interpersonal criticism must have a sound psychological and sociological referent. Much in the same way as the near automatic trigger that occurs when we perceive a stressful situation. 2008. their reputation. individuals often assess criticism as a threat. a brief synopsis of the literature on the psychophysiology involved in our reaction to criticism is in order. Pettit & Joiner. a threat to their well-being.

1979). Within the area of attribution theory in psychology (the study of how people explain other‟s behavior. we quickly create a story—almost always negative—that explains their actions as being a product of their self-centered. Genetic attributes and years of social conditioning often direct us toward aggressively overcoming this perceived threat and strive to win—at all costs (rather than amicably working to resolve the issue). 1958). 1977). Unfortunately. Ross & Sicoly. creating a usually negative attribution regarding their intentions and methods (Heider. As a result of heightened physiological arousal and lessened cognitive processing. we tend to focus on the critic. endeavoring to diminish the critic and the criticism. thus trying to restore our esteem. 41 . usually by attributing it to internal dispositions or external situations) is the essential cognitive biasing influence termed the Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross.When presented with information that is interpreted as an affront to ones self-esteem. The self-serving bias is a psychological tendency to always perceive oneself favorably. this often occurs by attacking the source of the criticism. we tend to go into defensive mode and we have a tendency to engage the self-serving bias. In other words. This can be true even if the criticism might be valid (though oftentimes poorly delivered). This often occurs when we attribute positive outcomes to oneself and negative outcomes to other factors. attempting to reestablish our sense of self-esteem (Campbell & Sedikides. This is a bias we use rather automatically that attributes the cause of a person‟s behavior (in this case the criticism) to some personal characteristic or trait. 1999.

we often ignore the contributing factors of the situation and focus solely on the character of that individual—usually in a negative way (You tripped because you are a klutz) (Jones & Nisbett. back-biting.) may be inappropriate. the emotional response is elicited from often incomplete or inaccurate data via the heuristic processing. when someone is criticized. White & Younger. 1988). we tend to focus on the situation (I tripped because there is a crack in the sidewalk). As a result. 1971). their first reaction may be to ignore the possible situational factors (including that the criticism is accurate) and focus instead on the critic‟s perceived lack of civility and other presumed character flaws. if in a work environment. The A-O bias indicates that when we act. Of course. uninformed. etc. mean-spirited nature (Fiedler. & Nickel. and the cognitively compromised story we create. In a similar way. The Fundamental Attribution Error has its roots in another related cognitive heuristic known as the Actor-Observer (A-O) Bias (Jones. influenced by the cognitive biases of the A-O and Fundamental Attribution Error. McGuire & McGuire. This 42 . the behavioral response (criticism. This process of experiencing criticism as a threat. 1991. can lead to an emotional response that ultimately results in some behavior. we may follow a comparable pattern. As a result. We notice a behavior that we do not like or. leads us to create a story as to the cause of their offending behavior. the associated physiological response. may violate a policy or standard.hostile. retaliation. Asbeck. 1986. when we are primed to offer criticism to others. When we observe others act. The observation. 1976).

The supervisor may become indignant that a worker would slough-off their responsibilities on their watch. Consequently. As a result. and our heightened emotional state. or any of a host of other circumstances that the supervisor did not bother to consider. that the individual acted with deliberate intention. we may find ourselves poised for attack. mean-spirited. and may even view this as a personal affront to their own supervisory authority. We may perceive. As a result of our likely imperfect observation. Again. our incomplete story. an unavoidable traffic delay. This may be especially true if the tardy arrival was due to a family emergency. based on our potentially compromised and incomplete story. not a reflective engagement. must not appreciate their job. Of course. the supervisor may launch into a tirade of criticism aimed at the employee. will often immediately experience the process mentioned above. this process can occur in seconds. the supervisor may immediately assume that the individual is lazy. thus eliciting a similar version of the fight-or-flight syndrome. The supervisor may even begin to ruminate on how this unacceptable behavior jeopardizes his job and adversely impacts the other workers. the employee being on the receiving end. it is likely that it took much more time to type this sentence than it took for this process to unfold. this story (as incomplete as it may be) can elicit an emotional reaction. 43 . The story we tell ourselves can lead to an emotional consequence. if a supervisor noticed an employee arrived for work late. critical jerk. For example. quickly concluding that the supervisor is a rude. inattentive. thoughtless.is a rather automatic process.

They can slow down their aversive reactions by considering other potential influences. The present study will utilize some of the psychosocial tools and techniques that have been show to be effective in ameliorating the problems identified above. the MAAG exercised final approval over all materials and curriculum components involved in the intervention. Studies have shown that people can become more aware of these biasing influences (Myers. the Program Advisory Council (PAC) vetted numerous resources. Ultimately. 2008). and members of the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). skills. this criticism-reaction sequence can be positively impacted. 44 . and they can cognitively reframe the entire process. Consideration of these biasing heuristic influences were components of the Criticism Management for Clergy training program (intervention) that was developed with the input of psychologists. Beginning with a biblical basis for handling criticism. including the psychosocial processes identified above. therapists.Fortunately. and practices that were deemed by the Council to have “strong utility” in the development of the program. techniques. educators.

Additionally.Chapter 5 Study 1 Overview Study 1 involves a focus group of clergy members who are asked to consider a series of questions that examine the impact of interpersonal criticism on the ministry. The qualitative focus-group approach provides valuable insight and guidance into the implications of interpersonal criticism in the lives of the clergy. this focus group was queried regarding the needed elements in creating a robust criticism management program designed specifically for the members of the ministry. Scheduling and other conflicts limited the final participation to 22 individuals. in conjunction with guidance received from the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). as well as important elements that are needed for the development of a successful intervention. 30 members of the clergy were randomly selected and invited to participate in the focus-group. This approach allows for greater methodological evaluation of the process and responses. These selections were made without regard to denominational or other such considerations. 45 . ostensibly resulting in greater generalizability of the findings. Study 1 involves an empirically sampled focus-group of clergy comprised of members of the ministerial alliance. Study 1 Methods Participants From a list provided by the ministerial alliance.

What are some best practices in handling criticism? 9. the focus group was asked to concentrate on these particular issues: 1. how prevalent is it? 6. burnout. What scriptural references do you believe are particularly salient to this issue? 46 . Is interpersonal criticism a problem for most ministers? 5. and criticism (Garner. as well as the input of the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group. Complete the following: When unfairly criticized. If so. Interpersonal Criticism has been defined as “negative feedback given by one person to another to inform the recipient that he or she was not performing in an adequate or appropriate manner” (Baron. How would you define criticism? 2. What would a strong program designed to help pastors better handle interpersonal criticism need to contain? 10. How does it manifest in clergy-congregant relations? 8. 2007). 3.Materials Based on the guidance from a pretest procedure that involved a survey sent to 100 members of the clergy regarding issues of vocational stress. the emotion I usually feel is:_____. 1990). What is the impact of criticism both personally and professionally? 7. Would you agree? 4.

as the contributions of this group would be used in the development of a survey instrument and a topical intervention program. reducing the personal or individual focus of their comments. All participants were informed that no individual or personally identifying information would be collected. Research demonstrates that prior consideration of issues to be addressed can result in more productive meetings and greater participation (see Brown & Paulus. Logistical considerations dictated that the meeting would be held contemporaneous with a regularly-scheduled Alliance conference. 2002). The participants were informed of the topic to be considered by the focus group when they were originally contacted and had been asked to reflect on this issue prior to the meeting. This is consistent with the research regarding the fallacy of traditional brainstorming techniques. This allowed for greater participation without undue impact on the personal schedules of the focus group members. Each was asked to be forthcoming with their discussions. This provides a greater psychological freedom to respondents. personal knowledge. Each of the 47 . Participants were informed of a few general ground rules to assure an orderly process and to ensure a more effective collection of the information.Design and Procedure Participants were invited to attend a two and one-half hour focus group session. participants were invited to offer anecdotal information as well as information based on direct. participants were asked to consider how “most other clergy” might respond to these items. Additionally. To further ensure a more robust dialogue.

identified general discussion questions was considered in sequence. though contributions were offered on a variety of issues throughout the session. Whiteboards and flip charts were used to capture salient information. two research assistants were tasked with taking copious notes. Additionally. 48 . Every effort was made to accurately depict the discussion and all materials and notes were cross-referenced to ensure reliability.

Although a research-based definition of criticism is offered in a later question (on which the participants can comment).” “It is others calling you to task for sinning differently than they do. The responses were informative and instructive. Question 1: How would you define criticism? This general question was intentionally asked first in the sequence. rather than a quantitative analysis was employed. Some of the representative comments are captured in the quotes below:    “Criticism is a negative evaluation. The responses were as expected with a focus on the negative and personal impact.” “Criticism is a term that is always negative.” 49 . There is no such thing as positive criticism. Qualitative data analysis can take a wide variety of forms. a qualitative. 2005). no reductionist or inferential statistical analyses were involved.Chapter 6 Study 1 Results As this is a focus group. The focus group generated substantial discussion on each of the identified questions. Each of the items are discussed below. the idea was to have a more general response here without the influence of a potentially biasing formal definition. however. it tends to differ from quantitative research in its focus on holistic and contextual language and meaning (Fischer.”  “The difference between positive and negative criticism is the attitude of the one delivering it. Therefore.

often by someone without all of the facts. The overwhelming response to this question was “anger. including “frustration.” and “pain.” “Criticism is a personal attack. the clear sense was that it was somewhat sterile and lacked the 50 . it‟s telling someone that they don‟t measure up.” they often feel guilty about having this initial emotion.” although there were variations.” “I think it is a negative comment that often hits one in the ego.”     “Criticism is a rebuke. Some also expressed that while they initially feel “anger” or “irritation. feedback is used when it is positive.” Further discussion revealed that after the surge of anger there are often other considerations such as disappointment and discontent.” “irritation.” Question 2: Complete the following: When unfairly criticized. the emotion I usually feel is:_____. “Criticism is usually a negative assault. This can lead one to feel even worse or work to improve their reception of criticism.” “aggravation. Question 3: Interpersonal Criticism has been defined as “negative feedback given by one person to another to inform the recipient that he or she was not performing in an adequate or appropriate manner” (Baron. however.” “Criticism is akin to fault-finding. 1990) would you agree? There was broad agreement that this definition was generally accurate.

several individuals indicated that criticism adversely impacted their ministerial role.” Question 4: Is interpersonal criticism a problem for most ministers? There was quick and ample agreement regarding this item. Interpersonal criticism was identified as a significant problem for members of the clergy. there was discussion that criticism posed a concern for many people. Some of the more recurrent comments are captured by the quotes listed below:    “It can be a real blow to the ego. it seems to me that criticism is more personal. however. Further.” “I‟ve been devastated by what I perceived as unfair criticism.”  “It‟s probably a good definition for researchers. I think it is often viewed as a personal assault.” 51 .” “I have had a personal struggle when criticized. The important point for this research was the clergy did not see themselves as being immune from the deleterious effects of criticism.emotional connotation that can accompany the actual event of dealing with criticism. I know I should be tolerant and forgiving. but there is a struggle between ones mind and ones emotions.”   “It seems to me that it is often negative and hostile. Some of the representative comments are identified below:  “Well…this is true.” Actually. not just the clergy. dealing with criticism is more impactful than this definition allows. Of course.

In my conversations with my colleagues it is clear that criticism is alive and well in our congregations. However. There was a general consensus that most pastors encounter a “significant criticism event” at least every six months. Some of the more recurrent comments are portrayed in the quotes listed below: 52 . It was not the frequency. “I think that we often view criticism as an assault to our competence—and that can be demoralizing. but the intensity of the emotional impact that captured the most discussion. the impact of interpersonal criticism was substantial.”  “No one likes to be criticized. there was considered agreement that regardless of frequency. Boy was I wrong. how prevalent is it? With regard to the prevalence of criticism.”  “I had people tell me that since they pay my salary I have to listen to everything they want to get off their chest—informed or not. there was wide variation among the group members. I was shocked that people criticized a pastor—I thought people respected the role and being God-directed.”  “I think some people feel they are entitled to offer their critical opinions about anything to which they personally disagree. There is a lot of „it‟s all about me‟ attitude. others indicated that it was relatively rare. Some indicated that it was nearly a routine occurrence within their congregation.” Question 5: If so.

“It‟s not so much how often it comes; it is more of the punch that it packs when it does.”

 

“I know of pastors who have simply been devastated by criticism.” “I am sure there are several ministers who have been lost in the wake of interpersonal conflict and criticism.”

“Criticism is like poison, it doesn‟t take much to have a big effect!”

Question 6: What is the impact of criticism both personally and professionally? The primary discussion on this topic centered around the issues of stress—and the associated problems—and occupational burnout. Participants offered a litany of psychological and physical consequences of poorly handled criticism. In addition to the usually cited potential health consequences, sleep disturbances were particularly (and unexpectedly) identified as a consequence of ruminating about interpersonal criticism. Professionally, the participants talked of disengagement and vocational burnout. Nearly half of the participants indicated that they knew a former pastor (this also included youth pastors, etc.) who they believed left the ministry prematurely due to the effects of conflict and criticism. Some of the more recurrent themes are identified in the quotes below:    “The effects of criticism can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted.” “Criticism is a drain on the conscience.” “Unfair criticism accounts for a lot of upset stomachs and sleepless nights.”

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“It‟s not just us that suffer; our whole family stresses when we are under such emotional stress.”

“Headaches, your stomach is in a knot, high blood pressure, feeling like you‟ve been „rung out;‟ what can I say, criticism can pack a wallop.”

“When I have received what I considered to be unfair and harsh criticism, I was constantly fighting my body—the physical effect—and my emotions. Unfortunately, those unsettled feelings seem to linger and return each time I thought about the incident again.”

“The effects of conflict and criticism are often cumulative. After a while you just want to retreat.”

“It‟s not a big secret; though not many talk about it. Conflict and criticism equals stress; stress equals consequences with your health and your emotions and that leads to burnout; burnout equals an early departure.”

“It is sad that more is not done to address this problem. I‟m glad that something useful will result from our discussions.”

“There are those individuals who you simply want to avoid; the chronic critics. It‟s really about self-preservation.”

“It is really a significant issue. Most of the problems are not about theology; they are about personality.”

Question 7: How does it manifest in clergy-congregant relations? The participants relayed that the most significant result from poorly handled criticism between the clergy and the congregants was either the loss of

54

their job or the defection of members of the congregation. Interestingly, there were three participants who divulged that they had been involved in unfortunate circumstances that resulted in their premature departure from a particular church. (In one case the participant was an associate pastor who indicated he was caught up in the „guilt by association‟ phenomena.) Additionally informative, none of the conflicts involved substantial issues in doctrine or theology. Two of the three clergy indicated it was merely personal differences and the other indicated there was a mismatch in expected worship style. Some of the more recurrent comments are captured by the quotes listed below:  “I‟ve seen more than one minister who just mishandled a relatively benign issue. Unfortunately, these things tend to fester.”  “It is critical for those in pastoral leadership positions to have top-notch skills at interpersonal communication—particularly in handling criticism. This can derail someone very quickly.”  “It‟s almost never about your beliefs, although some people try to use that to get at something else.”   “Dynamite comes in small packages, but can have big effects.” “Once I took a stand on a particular issue in our community and preached about it from the pulpit. I have never received more criticism than I did then—and about 10% of the congregation left the church. I was devastated. Even though it was only about 10% that left, they were a very

55

” Question 8: What are some best practices in handling criticism? The participants offered practical advice in handling criticism. it really a lose-lose. They may be hurting and are just venting.”  “The other side of the equation is that some pastors simply „hunker down‟ when they are hit with unfair criticism. the most frequently cited are identified below:   “Make sure you hold your tongue. This is tougher than it sounds.vocal group and at the time it seemed like nearly everyone was against me.”  “It‟s really a no-win situation. I work to learn something from it if I can and move on. but I‟m sure it is the right thing to do.” “I think one of the most important things is to not overly dwell on criticism. James had some great advice here. Obviously this limits the effectiveness of that pastor to his flock. There were a variety of suggestions offered by the group.”   “Always focus on the issue.” “Try to understand where the other person is coming from. not the person. We need to provide better training in the seminary for the realities of dealing with people—I think we could definitely improve. It was one of the biggest shocks I ever experienced. I look forward to seeing a seminar that will give us some tools to better deal with this issue. No one benefits from this kind of situation. We 56 .

” “I try to see if God is sending me a message for improvement. make sure you know exactly why you are doing it. and consider how the other person my respond—before I say anything to the person. depending on the circumstance and the emotions involved. That‟s not even good math!”   “Seek God‟s help right away. Of course.sometimes seem to ignore all the positive things other say and focus on the one or two negative comments. I make sure I run through the facts. the way I want to deliver the information.”  “I give criticism and feedback with the mindset and spirit of improvement.” “If I need to offer correction. is your heart in the right place?”   “I try to ask as many questions as I can---it helps. this can be a bit difficult at times.”  “If I am facing a particularly touchy area. I try to make sure I have all of the facts I need.”  “The old „standby‟ of counting to 10 before you say anything has helped me more times than I can count.”  “When giving criticism or feedback.” 57 .

”  “If we are going to be honest.Question 9: What would a strong program designed to help pastors better handle interpersonal criticism need to contain? The responses focused on the need for practical consideration in handling this difficult communication issue.” “I can tell you that it needs to be practical---that can‟t be stressed enough.”  “We need to do this in the seminary. I can tell you we need more than an admonition to forgive the offending party.”  “Practical advice is what will make the difference. all of the stuff we have just been talking about.”  “I think we need to offer „tools‟ for everyone to deal with the unexpected criticism that sneaks up on us. We know scripture. We know we should immediately forgive. In other words. we do not provide this type of „here is what to expect‟ training for new ministers. What is needed is ways to deal with criticism and the emotions that will allow us to be more effective. Some of the illustrative comments are listed below:   “Well. …and I know this is sensitive. but what would be most helpful is to give those in the seminary and practicing clergy tools that will help us to deal with the psychology so we can remain focused on the theology. We know we should hold our tongue.” 58 .

15:1.. en masse. including pastor-congregation.  A program that provides specific.  Although interpersonal criticism is infrequent. 23:12 25:12).  Interpersonal criticism can adversely affect interpersonal relationships. only those items that received majority support were included. 13:18. agreed that:  Interpersonal criticism is a challenging communication event that impacts clergy as it does many others. 59 .  Interpersonal criticism can have a detrimental effect on the life satisfaction and health of clergy members. several proverbs (e. the first chapter of James. the impact can be consequential. pastor-staff. however. and Mathew 7:1-5 were most often cited. will not be repeated here.Question 10: What scriptural references do you believe are particularly salient to this issue? Several scriptural references were offered by the participants. The focus group. This information is more fully covered in chapter 3 and. Various summary statements were offered to the group. All statements were based on the focus-group‟s conversations and were voted on by the participants. In particular. and pastor-family relations.g. Focus Group: Conclusion Statements At the conclusion of the focus group session a series of statements were identified that captured the sentiment of the group as a whole. chapter 15 of Acts. practical advice for clergy on how to better handle interpersonal criticism would be valuable. thus.

& 3). The participants had already considered their potential contributions and had time to reflect on their thoughts prior to arrival. the participants were free to offer not only their own considerations. but would feel uncomfortable expressing them as a personal position. Additionally. This allowed for the best use of the limited time. The participants had been told of the subject of the focusgroup and were asked to come to the session prepared for the discussion. There seemed to be a sense that this was an important issue for the group and they understood that their input was vital to the further development of the survey and the intervention. There was a healthy exchange of ideas. There was clear agreement among our clergy-participants that criticism is viewed as a negatively focused interaction that can have an adverse impact both personally and professionally. The prior notification of the focus group members regarding the topic to be discussed was helpful in this process. 2. The results of the focus group support the related hypotheses (1. the discussion was lively and the participants were engaged. but also to offer input on how “most other clergy might respond. This allowed for a prompt engagement and dialogue.Chapter 7 Study 1 Discussion Despite some initial trepidation that the participation might be less than vigorous.” This process allows participants to more freely express views that they believe others may hold or views that they themselves may have. et 60 . This is consistent with the findings of Darling. This approach is consistent with the advice provided by Brown and Paulus (2002).

Wilson et al. 2009.). et al. Frequently what some may label as anger is actually composed of other feelings and emotions such as embarrassment. Although harsh criticism was received relatively infrequently. ultimately the comments are interpreted by the person being criticized. other research suggests that although we most often identify our emotional reaction to criticism as anger. 1990. etc. when it occurred it was reported to often be impactful for our clergy sample. Previous research has suggested that individuals tend to label evaluative comments as feedback if they are delivered in a manner that regards the feeling of the recipient and is done so in a spirit of helping one to improve (Leung. Criticism was often seen as a personal attack rather than constructive advice. and Lee (1999). No matter what term a critic might use (feedback.. shame. pride. It has a high 61 . Grenny. Comments delivered without such regard were often identified as criticism. and so forth (see Ingram & Johnson.. Patterson. Receipt of criticism was reported to be accompanied by feelings of anger and frustration. evaluation. The discussion also revealed that many clergy mentally correlated negative criticism with a negative attitude on the part of the critic. McMillian. LaHaye & Phillips. Interestingly there was some discussion that we all should consider using the term “feedback” rather than criticism. (2004). this is often an imprecise label. Interesting. However. 1982. 2003). 2001). 2002. particularly if the criticism was unfair (also see Baron. that was quickly rejected when it was realized that this labeling was rally a function of the recipient. assessment. Hogue and Wenge (2005). 2005). & Switzler.al.

The trigger events that precipitate criticism were viewed as less substantial and rarely involved issues of theology or doctrine. The psychophysical consequence of “sleep disturbance” cited in this group was somewhat unexpected. Obviously. Gastrointestinal distress. This involves not only better handling criticism that is received from others. These elements will be incorporated into the intervention described in study 3. There was a clear sentiment that scriptural direction was foundational. however. and emotional fatigue were cited. The resultant effect can involve psychological and physical consequences. What is striking was the focus by the participants on the need for practical techniques and skills. Again. this seems to suggest the need of including in the study 3 intervention a skill set focused on handling criticism itself more effective. The participants indicated that ones inability to properly handle criticism was the consequential element. however. 62 . Additionally. This does seem to be intuitively consistent. not the topic itself. providing criticism that does not unnecessarily offend and engage the defenses of the recipient. Participants provided both practical and biblical guidance that should be considered when working with criticism-prone circumstances. this is an issue for inclusion in the Study 3 intervention. this symptom is not widely addressed in the literature.valiance with significant emotional intensity. many in the focus group knew of former pastors who left the ministry prematurely as a result of the effects of conflict and criticism. hypertension. but equally important. regardless of the severity of the topic.

It was particularly noted that this type of program should be considered in seminary curriculum. 63 . In sum.the group expressed that realistic advice and considerations allows one to better remain consistent with their biblical principles. this pertinent information will be used in the development of the study 3 intervention. These issues will be further explored in study 2 with a larger sample of clergy. The clergy-participants collectively agreed that interpersonal criticism was a seldom-addressed problem in the ministry that can have detrimental effects on their interpersonal relationships and personal wellbeing. the focus group determined that a program designed to assist pastors in better handling criticism-prone situations was necessary and valuable. Additionally.

The goal is to gain a better understanding of the impact that criticism may have on members of the ministry. This survey of members of a large ministerial alliance explicitly considered the role of criticism in the life of the clergy and their congregation. vocation. as well as the impact that criticism may have on their well-being. Specifically. Study 2 builds upon the information identified in the study 1 focus group by developing a survey instrument designed to explore the area of interpersonal criticism among the clergy on a larger sample. including issues of frequency. and a beta test of this survey instrument found that criticism is often viewed negatively and can have deleterious effect upon members of the clergy. and so forth is examined. the survey and procedures were refined based on the beta results and on input from the advisory group (MAAG) composed of members from the alliance.Chapter 8 Study 2 Overview Study 2 examines the issue of attitudes and influences related to interpersonal criticism among members of the clergy more fully. After the administration of the beta-test instrument. and adverse consequences. The formal survey administered to a larger sample of clergy confirmed the findings of the focus-group in study 1 and provided additional insight into the salient issues of clergy-criticism interactions. stress. 64 . severity. additional insight from members of the clergy on how they view and respond to criticism. Information gleaned from study 1.

stress. (See Appendix A for complete survey. Additionally.Study 2 Methods Participants One hundred and six (106) senior and associate pastors from various denominations were randomly selected to participate in the study survey. this instrument assesses the role of criticism in the lives and working relationships of clergy members. denominational influences. More specifically. The MISS consisting of 20 sections (most sections have multiple questions) that are designed to examine the interpersonal skills that members of the clergy consider to be essential in fulfilling their roles. The survey also has a section devoted to open-ended comments for participants to freely express how they view the impact of criticism on members of the clergy. All were members of the clergy and were associated with a large ministerial alliance. the area ministerial alliance. ministerial position. occupation/vocation. Materials The Ministerial Interpersonal Skills Survey (MISS) is an exploratory survey instrument that was created in collaboration with social scientists. Consistent with the prevailing literature in secular occupations. The MISS assesses the potential role that interpersonal criticism may have on health. and members of the clergy. and education level. this instrument collects general demographic data to examine potentially important associations such as the relationship of gender.) 65 . number of years in the ministry. family. burnout. and relationships. various issues regarding the impact of criticism and criticism-prone situations are explored as they relate to the clergy.

2008). 2005). they were asked to “honestly and reflectively” complete the survey instrument.Design and Procedure A listing of participating and associated members of the clergy was obtained from the ministerial alliance. 106 clergy were randomly selected to receive the Ministerial Interpersonal Skills Survey. A postage-paid return envelop was included and affixed to the survey. Participants included those that were identified as either senior or associate pastors. Previous studies have determined that participation substantially increases if a personal request is made (Cialdini. Garner. From this listing. and were directed to return the survey via the postage-paid envelop within a three-week time frame. Each of the 106 individuals identified were sent a copy of the MISS along with a cover letter explaining the general purpose of the research project and a personal request for their participation. if the survey instrument is not cumbersome. Participants were assured of their anonymity in their responses (no specific identifying data were collected). 66 . thus. 2000. and if there is no associated cost to the individual (Cozby. data from the alliance revealed that this could also include youth pastors and other related positions. the inclusion of the postage-paid envelop. however.

a post-analysis examination found no important differences between the late surveys and the aggregate results reported here.8 years.9. General Demographics of Respondents: Age: The mean age of those who completed the survey was 46. Return Rate: The survey return rate for this group was 78. This is somewhat higher than is usually expected for unsolicited surveys. 67 . n= 12). (Three individuals did not respond to this question. However. (85%. Of the 106 surveys sent 83 were returned within the three-week window provided.3%. Pastoral Position: There were 47 individuals who identified themselves as the senior pastor and 33 who indicated they were an associate pastor. Associate pastors were somewhat younger (34. n= 71) as compared with females (15%.) Time in Ministry: The average time in full-time ministry was 23. Three additional surveys were received after the indicated timeframe and were not included in the analysis.2) and senior pastors were slightly older (54.6). Gender: Respondents were overwhelmingly male.Chapter 9 Study 2 Results The MISS survey was analyzed using general statistical procedures and encoding through SPSS. The ministerial alliance leadership suggests that this is consistent with their expectations.

the sample size is relatively small and the respondents were required to be active members of the clergy who had an affiliation with the area ministerial alliance. caution must be exercised when interpreting these data.Education: The highest level of education was modally indicated to be a Masters degree (n = 38). Table 1 Respondents Denominational Affiliation 26 Baptist 19 8 7 6 5 3 3 2 2 Methodist Lutheran Nondenominational Presbyterian Church of Christ Assemblies of God Pentecostal Catholic No Response 68 . 18 indicated they had a Bachelors degree. Although a randomization procedure was used to select potential participants. Of the remaining respondents. Denomination: The breakdown of denominational affiliation is presented in Table 1. None of the respondents indicated that they had “no college” and 7 did not respond to this item. Fifty-two of the respondents indicated that they had graduated from seminary.” 7 reported earning a Doctorate. and 2 indicated they had an Associates Degree. However. 11 identified that that had “some college credit.

Survey Results Respondents were asked to identify the top three interpersonal skills essential for members of the clergy (question 1). and handling conflict / criticism were the most frequently identified. position. Communication. The results are provided in table 2.Interactive Demographic Analysis: Given the relatively small number involved. Of those items. Table 2 Essential Interpersonal Skills Identified for Clergy Number of Times Item Identified 71 64 61 39 19 15 12 Skill Effective Communication Listening Handling Conflict / Criticism * Stress Management / Health Goal Setting Problem Solving Relationship Building 69 . between-cells analysis did not reveal statistically significant differences in response patterns based on gender. There were interesting trends suggesting that younger respondents reported greater frustration and experienced greater stress as a result of criticism than did older participants. however. age. listening. these were not statistically significant. or denomination.” Handling conflict / criticism was selected more than any other category. the participants were asked in a follow-up question (2) to identify the one skill that “caused the most difficulty for clergy and congregations. education.

the most frequently cited issue was the lack of adequate preparation or training in dealing with this sensitive issue. 70 . analysis of question 3 in the survey found that 91% (n = 74) of the respondents indicated that difficulty in handling criticism and criticismprone situations was one of the major problems in leadership effectiveness (note 3 individuals did not answer this item).) However. When assessing the explanations offered for this perception. from among those skills they identified. there seems to be a sense that clergy can do a better job of offering and receiving critical comments. Similarly. Of the 80 individuals who responded to these items (6 & 7 in the survey. A secondary question asked them to identify the skill that caused clergy and congregation the most difficulty.12 9 7 3 Assertiveness Conducting Meetings Team Building Delegation skills * = Identified as the “most difficult” skill Note: Respondents were allowed to freely list their top three essential skills. therefore the totals will exceed the number of participants. respectively). The respondents indicated that the majority of individuals (non-clergy) tend to offer criticism in a more destructive (77%) rather than a productive manner. when it comes to perceptions of how members of the clergy address criticism. (See Table 3 for summary of items 4 & 5. others less. The respondent also indicated that most people receive criticism defensively (91%). 72% indicated that clergy are more productive and effective in offering criticism to others and tend to accept criticism less defensively (61%). All responses were included in the analysis. Some participants identified more than three items.

” Some clergy indicated that their reaction was to “retreat” when faced with criticism (n = 22) while others indicated that they were more likely to offer a robust defense (n = 16) or occasionally offer a counterattack (n =9). cause one to become defensive (93%). frustrated. the results were unequivocal. and hurt ones feelings (96%). all (100%) agreed that such training could be helpful. This was not a question that addressed how they individually handled criticism. of the 80 respondents who considered whether members of congregations could 71 . annoyed. Additionally clergy members overwhelmingly believe that poorly delivered criticism can impact ones self-esteem (96%). or irritated. When examining whether the respondents and other members of the clergy could benefit from learning how to better give and receive criticism more effectively. When considering their own response or reaction to receiving criticism.Table 3 Comparison of Respondents Perception of How Most People (in general) Versus Members of the Clergy Offer and Receive Criticism. Despite this perception. Group Most People Clergy Offer Criticism Productively Destructively 23% 72% 77% 28% Receive Criticism Acceptingly Defensively 8% 61% 91% 39% Note: This question was asking respondents about both people and clergy in general. Of the 79 individuals who responded to this question. Additionally. the majority of clergy (96%) indicated that when they receive criticism they occasionally become angry. only 7% (n = 6) indicated that they “always assess and respond to criticism effectively.

3% 16.2%).9% 92. (This is discussed more fully in Table 6. they received unfair criticism (72.7% 83. There was strong agreement that the consequences of destructive criticism can have adverse implications. Further. and burnout were all identified by more than half of those responding as a penalty of dealing with destructive criticism.7% 92.8% Note: Respondents could select as many items as they believed applied. health.) It is important to note that issues of job stress. relationships.benefit from learning how to better give and receive criticism. (See table 4. all but one (n=79.0% 79.75%) indicated that there was value in this type of education.5% 78.) Table 4 Perceived Consequences of Destructive Criticism (N = 83) Number of Times Item Selected 78 77 77 68 66 65 14 Issue Job Stress Interpersonal Stress Relationship Issues Health Issues Family Difficulties Burnout Other Percent 93. 72 . and had received personal criticism from someone in a leadership role in the congregation (53%). the majority of respondents indicated that within the last year. 98.

Additionally.54 .492 . the clergy indicated that their preparatory or seminary training ill equipped them to effectively deal with interpersonal criticism and that denominational administrations should provide more training and educational opportunities to members of the ministry to handle issues of conflict resolution and criticism.82 4.One section of the MISS utilized a five-point. the respondents confirmed that criticism can be a significant stressor for members of the clergy that can lead to adverse personal and professional consequences. Criticism at work can impact relationships at home.276 4. The results are presented in table 5.77 4. Likert-type attitude assessment. Denominational administration should provide more training and educational opportunities to deal with conflict and criticism.60 4.63 SD . Program for clergy to better handle criticism is beneficial. as the other person may not want to hear it.486 4. Mean 4. Biblical precepts can be used to assist clergy and congregations to more effectively handle criticism.92 .386 .502 73 .645 .504 .65 4. Giving criticism is difficult. Preparatory or seminary training provided little or no specific training to deal with interpersonal criticism. Poorly handled criticism can lead to adverse professional consequences. Clearly.38 4.474 . Table 5 Attitudinal Measure of Criticism (N = 81) Question Criticism can be a significant stressor for clergy.

” respondents indicated whether or not they had received communication within the last year that they identified as criticism. 81. Criticized by congregation leadership. Questioned devotion to ministry.The MISS question (item 16) that asked participants how frequently they actively sought to receive criticism from others was noteworthy. 27.2% 53.6% Note: Respondents could select as many items as they believed applied. Table 6 provides the specific areas identified by the clergy in which they received criticism.8% 8.5% indicated they “almost never” sought criticism (n=17). Finally. 50. In the section of the MISS that addressed “personal criticism. and 21.9% 60 44 9 7 3 Criticized unfairly.8% selected that they “rarely” solicited criticism (n = 22). Other 72. Of the remaining categories related to this question.4% 3. the open-ended section of the MISS provided participants with an opportunity to offer comments regarding the impact of criticism on members of 74 .6% indicated they “occasionally” sought criticism (n = 40).0% 10. Voiced doubts about your faith. Table 6 Received Personal Criticism in the Last Year (N = 83) Number of Times Item Selected Issue Percent 68 Criticized by congregation member. None of the respondents indicated that they frequently solicited criticism.

these comments suggest that criticism has a significant impact on personal and professional relationships.the clergy that might not have been addressed in the previous questions. Additionally. 75 . The most frequent comments involved a sense of frustration over criticism received based on unreasonable expectations that are held by some members of the congregation. The comments associated with this section resulted in further verification of the deleterious effects of poor handling of criticism and criticism-prone situations.

Clergy were allowed to open-endedly identify the most salient interpersonal skills. Additionally. listening. The findings confirm the information identified in study 1 and further support the related hypotheses (1. This speaks to the reliability of the measures employed.Chapter 10 Study 2 Discussion The response rate for this randomly-assigned survey was a strong 78. Those related to the area of communication topped the list (communication. the participants indicated that they believed that clergy were likely more productive and effective in offering criticism to others and tend to accept criticism less defensively than the general public. such a strong return rate provides additional confidence that the results can properly generalize to the larger population. and the results found in study 2 were all internally consistent.3% (n = 83). the clergy-participants indicated strong agreement with the proposition that handling criticism and criticism-prone situations was a major issue in leadership effectiveness. the focus-group findings. it was ranked highest as being the area that caused the most difficultly for clergy. criticism / conflict). Members of the clergy recognize that handling interpersonal conflict and criticism are important skills for members of the ministry. More telling. It is important to 76 . was that though handling criticism and conflict was ranked third in the overall list of important skills. 2. Additionally. considering the pretest survey. Considering that the typical response rate for an unsolicited survey is usually around 38%. this result was impressive. & 3). however. Interestingly.

cause one to become defensive (93%). and hurt one‟s feelings (96%). annoyed. All too often we do what is comfortable in the short term. 140). It is possible that there was an undercurrent of social desirability in addressing this issue. few clergy indicated that they “always assess and respond to criticism effectively. and was not a response based on any individual participant. Hogue & Wenge. In the item that addressed their personal responses to criticism. 2002). relationships. Ingram and Johnson (2009) report that when such conflict occurs... Although typically sparse. McKown. Darling et al. the participants overwhelming indicated that they occasionally became angry. Additionally. Ferguson. frustrated. rather than what is helpful in the long term. Further. the research literate was supported regarding issues of job stress. 2005. 2008. Additionally. and burnout as a result of dealing with destructive criticism (e. “either we blow up and attack…or we retreat in fear of confrontation” (p. and irritated when faced with criticism.” The majority of respondents indicated that their reaction to criticism was to “retreat” or offer a defensive response—occasionally characterized as a counterattack. 2004. The clergy-participants overwhelmingly indicate that improperly handled criticism can have a consequential penalty on personal well-being and result in untimely ended careers.note that this question addressed clergy in general. clergy members soundly indicated that poorly delivered criticism can impact one‟s self-esteem (96%).g. the survey revealed that most clergy reported they had received communication within the last year that they identified as unfair 77 . from a personal perspective. health.

The attitudinal section of the survey revealed further confirmation that criticism can be a significant stressor for members of the clergy. as well as previous related research (e. 2002. Lee. leading to adverse personal and professional consequences. This provides convergent validity to other sections of the MISS. 2007. 2003). Further. Lee & Iverson-Gilbert. McKown. Hogue and Wenge (2005) reported that many who have left the ministry speak with passion regarding the lack of support or assistance from denominational officials and the limitations of their seminary training. Dyble. This is consistent with previous research in which harsh clergy criticism was found to be infrequent but impactful (Beebe. There was near unanimous agreement that criticism impacted vocational and personal relationships.g.. 2003). the present findings are supportive of the research conducted by Lee (1999) which found that criticism received from someone in a leadership position was considered to be the most stressful event of the 17 items listed in the survey. the attitudinal questions established that clergy found their preparatory or seminary training to be insufficient in effectively dealing with interpersonal criticism and that denominational administrations should provide more training and educational opportunities to members of the ministry to handle issues of conflict resolution and criticism. Additionally. Hoge. Lee & Iverson-Gilbert. This is consistent with the finding of the study 1 focus group and previous research. and Polk (1981) suggested 78 .personal criticism and most had received criticism from someone in a leadership role within their congregation. 1999.

that denominational officials should offer more specific training in areas such as this. This seems to suggest that this issue. Most indicated that they seldom or occasionally sought criticism. Previous research (Ashford & Cummings. as well as others identified above. none of the respondents indicated that they frequently solicited criticism. 1990) has indicated that soliciting criticism and feedback was an effective strategy to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of criticism. However. 79 . 1983. The overview of study 3 and development of this program is discussed in the next chapter. should be addressed in the intervention developed in study 3. Baron.

the MAAG. In order to develop a comprehensive intervention. and (c) to consider ways to solicit productive criticism from others. intervention program to assist members of the clergy in handling criticism and criticism-prone circumstances more effectively. In order to develop a methodologically robust intervention program. as well as voluminous relevant topic-related materials. The PAC was comprised of psychologists. education specialists. The program is specifically tailored to address the identified needs of the clergy who comprise the study population—the members of the ministerial alliance: (a) to more effectively give criticism. In conjunction with this researcher and the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). the PAC examined previous research. The intervention was delivered to a group of clergy as a continuingeducation training program.Chapter 11 Study 3 Overview Study 3 involves the creation and presentation of the Criticism Management for Clergy program. 80 . psychologically sound. a Program Advisory Council (PAC) was created to aid in the development of this program. (b) to better assess and respond to received criticism. and members of the MAAG. the findings in studies 1 and 2. The goal was to develop a biblically based. and the responses from the clergy focus-group. these psychosocial elements were mapped onto biblically sound guidance for handling criticism. The biblical guidance is discussed in greater detail in chapter 3 and was guided by the recommendations of the PAC.

). Although the ideal number of participants was estimated to be approximately 30 (in consideration of logistical issues such as room size. The terminal goal of study 3 was to create and evaluate a viable. demographic. 81 . more importantly. As a result of the randomization procedure. or vocational considerations of the participants were not involved or assessed. The post-training follow-up survey was administered approximately six weeks after the training intervention.The training program was administered to members of the clergy randomly selected from a list developed in conjunction with the MAGG. the immediate and post assessment process was designed to determine if the participants report that the information presented in the targeted program was useful and. the group was oversampled in recognition of the numerous scheduling conflicts that were likely to exist. denominational.5hour program. empirically-driven intervention. interaction opportunities. Study 3 Methods Participants Forty-five members of the ministerial alliance were randomly selected from the full listing of interested clergy provided by the MAAG and invited to participate in the Criticism Management for Clergy program. etc. A robust 34 full-time senior and associate pastors participated in this portion of the study. Specifically. Each participant attended a 3. if the training had a tangible impact on their daily interactions and concomitant interpersonal factors.

” and “I seldom feel stress when receiving interpersonal criticism from others. Receive.Materials Participants completed the Interpersonal Criticism Scale (ICS) prior to receiving the intervention training. 2005. 82 .. Bright. Allen. The ICS is designed to elicit an individual‟s assessment of how they handle interpersonal conflict and criticism.” Each item was self-scored on a typical 7point attitudinal rating scale (see Appendix B). 1999. This instrument was designed to help the participant establish current benchmarks by which they might later individually assess their own potential improvement. The ICS included Likert-type questions such as “I always receive criticism from others effectively. Participants were provided with a 3. The content of this session was developed by this researcher in conjunction with subject matter experts who comprised the Program Advisory Committee and in consultation with members of the ministerial alliance. and Solicit Criticism. 1981. and to alleviate the concern that some participants may have regarding personal disclosure (even in the classroom) of potentially sensitive information. 2004. Crowe. 1988. Cupach & Canary. The PAC reviewed dozens of journal articles. this instrument was not collected.” “I always offer criticism to others constructively. monographs and curriculum of other training programs (e. In order to maintain confidentiality. 1997.5-hour intervention identified as a ministerial workshop entitled: Criticism Management and the Clergy: How to Better Give. Cava.g. It was merely used as a self-help assessment tool for the participants to anchor their efficaciousness in handling interpersonal criticism. texts. Bramson.

Critical Communication i. Criticism and the Clergy: What‟s the Toll   The Research on Criticism The Research on Clergy b. Benefits of Criticism h. How Would Jesus Criticize? g. 2003). The Bible and Criticism f. Ursiny. Receiving and Appraising Criticism 83 .Garner. Redefining Criticism  Using the GRIPE approach d. No instructional element was included if it did not meet the seminal test of biblical veracity. 2005.. Stone. 1993. Poirier. 2002. Giving Criticism more Effectively k. 2006. 2005. Criticism: Is it better to Give or Receive? j. 2006. and practical utility were synthesized into the program. History of Criticism c. Sande. The information and materials that were deemed by the PAC to have relevance. Meier. Each area of the workshop was vetted by the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG). empirical support. 2000. The foundation of the intervention was based on sound biblical principles and examples (see chapter 3). & Heen. Causes of Criticism e. The workshop included the following sections: a. Patton. Patterson et al.

and the relevance using a 5-point Likert-type scale.l. and a workbook. a section that solicited specific behavioral examples that were impacted by attendance in the class. (See Appendix D for the follow-up evaluation items. as well as a self-rating concerning the participants handling of criticism before and after the workshop. Becoming an Effective Criticism Manager p. The initial evaluative procedure consisted of an immediate survey that was similar in construction to that used in other Ministerial Alliance training. each participant received a copy of an appropriate text. the topic. Scenarios and Practice Additionally. This was done at the request of the MAAG and involved 7 attitudinal questions that generally assessed the speaker.) The six-week follow-up was a web-based evaluation that consisted of seven Likert-type attitudinal questions. (See Chapter 12 for the list of all items and responses.) Design and Procedure In conjunction with the MAAG. Criticism Techniques o. Criticism as Information m. a section that allowed open-ended responses regarding the participant‟s evaluation of the most useful elements of the workshop. an informational flyer and other interagency communications regarding the availability of the Criticism 84 . Additionally this form had an area for open-ended comment from the participants. a related study guide. The ABC‟s of Responding to Criticism n.

Each participant was asked to sign-in and then given a copy 85 . In other words. “Somewhat Interested. Of the 45 invitees. Participants arrived at the training venue and were provided with all necessary materials. all who responded affirmatively. this allowed for some control in the number of attendees so that the interest in the program did not exceed the materials or logistical resources available for the event. regardless of valence. After allowing for a time-frame in which the program information had been readily available to their members. There were no costs associated with this training for the participants. created. the MAAG contacted their membership and developed a listing of those clergy who expressed some level of interest. 45 members were randomly selected and received an invitation to the training program. The invitation procedure was used to provide some predictability as to the number of participants.” “Very Interested”) however. As indicated above.Management for the Clergy workshop was made available to members of the area ministerial alliance. There were no restrictions or requirements for participation other than one must be a member of the clergy and be available for the full training event. this is an intentional oversampling to compensate for likely scheduling and other conflicts. 2000) and provided attendance boundaries to ensure that program supplies and resources were adequate. were placed on the list. all materials and resources were purchased. and provided at the expense of this researcher. The invitation offered a personal request designed to increase commitment (Cialdini. Based on the list provided by the MAAG.g. The MAAG identified a range of interest levels (e. 34 were able to attend.

The workshop addressed some important biblical principles and precepts that relate to this topic and considered ways in which criticism could be offered in more productive ways. The group explored the potential benefits of productive criticism and the potential causes and problems associated with negative criticism. Finally. the workshop commenced with an overview of the research on criticism. The goal was to encourage a completely honest self-evaluation without the need for face-saving or impression management that might occur if the instrument was collected.of the ICS to complete as a means for assessing their current performance in handling conflict and criticism. This was followed with some of the perceptions that are held regarding criticism. and discussed a number of specific techniques. After providing time for completion of the ICS. particularly as it relates to clergy and congregations. 86 . as well as an historical overview of the way this term has changed over time. Members of the MAAG recommended this to be the best approach. The participants were encouraged to keep the ICS and evaluate their self-reflected improvement in the weeks to come. It was made clear that this was merely a tool designed for their own edification and would not be collected or shared with others. addressed ways to better appraise and respond to interpersonal criticism that is received. there was a dialogue regarding characteristics of those individuals who tend to manage criticism and criticismprone situations more effectively. The workshop extensively covered important considerations in giving criticism more productively.

as other research has demonstrated that the positive appraisals taken immediately after a training event may not have an enduring impact. At the conclusion of the workshop. Additionally. The follow-up questionnaire was created using a web-based professional survey software program that allowed participants to go to a secure on-line link and provide their anonymous responses in a quick and efficient manner. This instrument was designed to assess the enduring effects of the training. but to also provide information that may be useful in better tailoring future workshops. The goal was to determine if the participants had used the material or techniques discussed and if they determined that the session had been personally beneficial. This program evaluation was designed to not only provide an assessment of the participant‟s perceptions of the current offering. the desire was to assess whether the participants reported that their handling of criticism and criticism-prone situations had improved 87 .This was a fast-paced and intensive workshop designed to help participants to more effectively handle various aspects of interpersonal conflict and criticism based on the relevant research literature and biblical precepts. It was requested that the participants complete the evaluation and submit or return it within 10 days. This type of assessment is important. Approximately six weeks following the completion of the workshop all participants were contacted and provided with an on-line follow-up questionnaire regarding the training. participants were asked to complete an evaluation before they departed.

(See Appendix D for a sample copy of these items.) 88 . the follow-up evaluation had an attitudinal measurement section that assessed (a) the participants‟ general rating of the workshops value. (b) a section that allowed the respondents to assess their pre-and post-workshop handling of criticism and (c) an open-ended section that allowed participants to identify the best portions and techniques offered in the workshop. Specifically. The final section allowed respondents to offer a specific example of an interaction or particular event that was impacted by what had been learned at the workshop.after receiving the training and to solicit particular examples of how they applied the information received. as well as suggestions for improvement or changes.

a 5-point Likert-type scale (1= “Strongly disagree” to 5 = “Strongly agree”) was used for the attitudinal questions to match the evaluation instrument employed by the Ministerial Alliance in other training and seminar events.251 89 . The speaker/facilitator was knowledgeable about the topic.300 .591 . The instructional methods were conducive to learning. This evaluation was a general assessment of the speaker. In this case.91 4.94 4. I think differently about criticism. though not every person responded to all questions.94 SD . Survey Question The ministerial workshop on criticism management was beneficial. Of the 34 attendees. the topic.74 4.68 4. The evaluation consisted of 7 attitudinal questions and an open-ended section for additional comments.512 . Table 7 Mean and Standard Deviations for Each of the Immediate Feedback Attitudinal Question Items. 33 completed the feedback instrument. Table 7 summarizes the attitudinal responses provided by the participants. and the relevance.251 . M 4. The content of the workshop relates to my present work. As a result of my participation in this workshop.Chapter 12 Study 3 Results Immediate Feedback Survey The immediate feedback provided by the participants indicated the intervention program was well received.

76 4. an open-ended question provided participants with an opportunity to provide additional comments. These comments were generally brief (a result of the short time allotted at the conclusion of the session) and positive. enthusiastic. Kudos. this was fantastic. now if you could only come to my church and teach the congregation how to criticism me properly!”  “This is exactly what is needed in the seminary.” “Excellent.”   “Great session. Very knowledgeable. A similar workshop designed for members of the congregation would be useful. this was a great class.The Criticism Management topic should continue to be offered to members of the clergy. This needs to be at our conference and in every seminary”  “Excellent instructor.” 90 . however.” “I had never considered a session on criticism and I‟ve never heard of this being done before.502 . 4.”  “OK.512 In addition to the attitudinal measures. We all need this.”  “This needs to be a course in the seminary and a much longer workshop for the rest of us.74 . and made the subject interesting.” “I must admit to being initially skeptical. A representative sampling is provided below:    “Outstanding! Great job bringing the class into the presentation. My only comment is that this needs to be longer.

providing scores based on general impressions without carefully reading the questions. The open-ended items were coded based on their content for ease of analysis. The resulting means are based on a 7-point Likert-type scale that is anchored from “Strongly Agree” through “Strongly Disagree” (see Appendix D for complete scale). a robust 32 completed the follow-up evaluation. that it resulted in improved handling of criticism. Attitudinal Questions Table 8 captures the question items and descriptive data for the attitudinal items. but should also be expanded to a workshop designed for the congregation. The final item was intentionally reverse-worded as an integrity check. The participants reported that the criticism management workshop was beneficial. that they put particular techniques into practice. The instrument was differentially analyzed based on the type of question (open or closed ended). There is no evidence of that concern based on these results. The mean and standard deviation are presented for each attitudinal item.Follow-up Survey Of the 34 participants involved in the ministerial workshop.and post-attendance questions allowed both descriptive analysis as well as a paired-means comparison. This provides some confidence that respondents are not merely “straight-lining” their response. 91 . and they overwhelmingly indicated that this type of workshop should not only be continued for the clergy. The attitudinal items yielded descriptive data and the pre.

65 6. One question dealt with their self-assessment of how well they handled criticism before attending the workshop and the other addressed how they rate themselves at handling criticism after attending the training program.25 1. A similar workshop designed for members of the congregation would be useful.46 6.25 SD .508 Improvement Evaluation The participants were asked to rate themselves on a general scale from 1 to 10 (1 = poor.567 . Question The ministerial workshop on criticism management was beneficial. I have used specific techniques or elements presented in the workshop.78 6. This approach assists the participant in minimizing recency bias in recall.842 .491 . Since completing the ministerial workshop I have improved my response to criticism. 10 = excellent) on two questions. The Criticism Management topic should continue to be offered to members of the clergy.677 .15 6. Mean 6.42 6. I think differently about criticism since completing the workshop. In the last few weeks.Table 8 Mean and Standard Deviations for Each of the Follow-up Survey Attitudinal Question Items. They were asked to reflect on their ICS self-assessment ratings that they completed prior to the program. The Criticism Management workshop was not valuable.545 .507 . 92 .

The respondents mean rating for pre-workshop handling of criticism was 6.508) as contrasted with the post-workshop mean rating of 8. A paired-t test resulted in a statistically significant finding.The results were robust.264.03 (SD = .25 (SD = . p< . t(31) = 14. respondents identified the “best techniques” offered in the workshop were: (a) the ABC method of responding to criticism. 93 . The self-reports of the participants indicate that they substantially benefited from their involvement in the training program and continued to hold this position a month and a half after the conclusion of the program. (c) the focus on the productive potential of properly delivered criticism. (b) the new definition of criticism based on the history of the term. The two most frequently cited suggestions for improvement were to make the session longer and include more written and role-play scenarios. and (c) the mindset of offering criticism as though you are offering it to a child and (d) the importance of asking and using questions to mitigate ones own emotional response and gain useful information. and (d) the value in seeking criticism before it seeks you.474). Open-Ended Item Analysis The most frequently occurring comments regarding what participants identified as the “best part of the workshop” can be classified into four general areas: (a) the cognitive reappraisal steps identified in redefining and offering criticism. (b) the focus on practical ideas within a biblical framework. More specifically.001.

” d) How to better assess the criticism that one receives. “I give more consideration to the goal of any criticism I may offer. “I think it is important to follow the advice offered in the seminar and actively look for ways to use criticism—even if it is undeserved or poorly delivered—to improve. “I find myself being more thoughtful and reflective regarding criticism. to both clarify the criticism I am receiving and to short-circuit the emotional element. I make sure the focus is on improvement or helping the other person to grow. I make sure I ask questions. “I have used the ABC‟s several times since the session and found it to be very helpful. These included examples such as: (a) Engaged thinking and assessment before comment. I have benefited.” 94 . Each of the offerings involved one or more of the above identified “best practices” techniques.A number of individuals provided specific examples of how their involvement with the ministerial workshop on criticism management had impacted their actual behavior. Even if that improvement involves gaining more tolerance and patience.” (c) Thinking about the potential productive nature of criticism.” (b) Considering the actual purpose of criticism.

As a result.Chapter 13 Study 3 Discussion The final study in this series culminated in the development of a biblically sound. As a result. This was a reasonable approach. Of course. Neither can it adequately capture the multitude of logistical complications nor the dedicated work of the MAAG and the PAC to see this project to fruition. The reporting of this program and the process on which it was derived cannot adequately capture the many hours of work and development that was necessary to reach this goal. As a result. the sample selected for participation in the intervention was randomly derived from a list generated by the MAAG. The intervention program was based in part on the information gleaned from the study 1 and study 2 findings. as it provided a random control element and gained logistical influence so as to ensure an adequate delivery of the intervention to a manageable group of participants. concurrently. and methodologically robust Criticism Management for Clergy intervention. the generalizability is formally limited to those members of the clergy who have expressed at least some interest in this topic. this biblically directed and practically focused approach was conceptually. the 95 . We did not want to outstrip our ability to deliver a quality program or exceed the capacity of our resources. it would be unlikely that anyone hostile to such a program would ever consider attending. and contextually valid for this group. psychologically appropriate. Although this was not a true experimental design (because of logistical considerations).

and the session was well evaluated. Although future training events may increased the allotted time. The curriculum content was well received and the comments regarding the instruction were strong. However. the scheduling. such comments often occur for programs that are highly evaluated. guidance. the participants were engaged. The logistical complexity involved in this process was daunting. Developing the curriculum and support materials required a substantial commitment of all involved in this effort. In fact. Both the immediate participant evaluations and the follow-up evaluations indicated that the program was well targeted to the group and setting. the number of available participants might drop precipitously.general findings would seem to reasonably apply to those members of the clergy for which the program was developed. Of course. we would all like to engage more of that which interests us and is beneficial. Additionally. The main limitation identified in both the immediate and follow-up survey was the recommendation for additional time. Importantly. those who are seeking additional information. or help in addressing this often difficult interpersonal issue. particularly the PAC members. and the provision of other support services needed for the training event. The concern was that if a longer session was offered. in a beta analysis and interviews with members of clergy 96 . the session was well attended. the MAAG and the PAC both determined that the 3.5 hour instructional block was appropriate. the diversity of this group provided unique challenges for the coordination of the venue. hypotheses 4 and 5 were confirmed.

The pre and post self-evaluations of the participants revealed a statistically significant difference in their efficacy to handle criticism and criticism-prone situations. but was identified by the participants as being useful long after the immediate “afterglow” of the initial training. All too often seminars are attended with interest but with little resultant change in behavior or attitude as a product of one‟s participation. The open-ended comments offered verification of the attitudinal items and demonstrated that the participants were actively engaged in the session.conducted before this project commenced. It is particularly noteworthy that the follow-up analysis. however. That engagement manifested in actual behavioral changes identified by members of the clergy. beneficial. It is only with the hindsight of a highly-rated event that the participants lobby for more time. resulted in such demonstrative ratings. increasing the programs length and enhancing the programs content should be considered for future research. The follow-up survey provides compelling evidence that this program is needed. In this case. the information is never put into action. However. and should be expanded. 2008). the majority of interviewees indicated that they would not likely agree to attend any session that lasted more than a half day. conducted a month and a half after the session concluded. This suggests that the topic was not only interesting in the short run. In many cases individuals may attend a session with an appealing topic or content.5 hour session with the 16 hour intervention conducted in another research-based evaluation (Garner. when contrasting this 3. we have 97 .

98 .clear evidence that the session was not only highly rated both immediately and at the time of the follow-up. we find that the impact of this program affected the lives and interactions of the participants in meaningful ways.

The present series of studies attempts to address a number of these concerns and omissions. it is unlikely that a study of this scope would have been possible without the development of such a strong partnership. Prior to the research reported herein. psychological. sociological. 99 . and vocational problems.Chapter 14 General Discussion Members of the clergy are not immune from the difficulties and stresses associated with criticism and criticism-prone situations. Although compromises were made to solidify the support and participation of the alliance. there were no identified peer-reviewed journal articles or empirical reviews that specifically addressed strategies or assessed targeted interventions to assist members of the clergy in ameliorating some of the adverse psychological and physiological costs associated with criticism. or few participants. little research has focused on this area and the paucity of research that has been conducted often suffers from methodological concerns. The relationship developed with the Ministerial Alliance and the creation of both the Ministerial Alliance Advisory Group (MAAG) and the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) were instrumental to the success of this effort. unrepresentative samples. The consequences of poorly handled criticism can result in a host of physical. There is a strong inverse relationship between destructive interpersonal criticism received by members of the clergy and overall ratings of well-being and life satisfaction. Unfortunately.

was the consequential element. Although harsh criticism was reported to be received relatively infrequently. hypertension.The randomly selected focus group of clergy members involved in study 1 provided valuable insight and guidance into the implications of interpersonal criticism in the lives of the clergy. sleep disturbances. Importantly. There was clear agreement among the participants that criticism is viewed by members of the clergy as a negatively focused interaction that can have an adverse impact both personally and professionally. Additionally. Psychological and physical consequences were reported by the clergy-participants. when it occurred it was often accompanied with significant emotional intensity. Receipt of criticism. The focus-group identified conflict and criticism as a precursor for some former pastors who left the ministry prematurely. The clergy-participants collectively concluded that interpersonal criticism was a seldom-addressed problem in the ministry. poorly handled criticism had vocational consequences as well. particularly if it was perceived as unfair. was reported to be accompanied by feelings of anger and frustration. including issues involving gastrointestinal distresses. Major issues involving doctrine or theology were not the problem. and emotional fatigue. as the topics that lead to impactful critical interactions were often described as “garden variety. the participants indicated that one‟s inability to properly handle criticism in general.” This information provided important data used in 100 . as well as important elements that were needed in the development of a successful intervention. not the subject matter of the criticism.

vocation. Additionally. It was particularly noted that this type of program should be considered in seminary curriculum. Although handling criticism and conflict was ranked third in the overall list of important skills identified in the survey.the development of the intervention and allowed for a focus on enhancing an appropriate skill set rather than examining topical defenses. Members of the clergy recognize that handling interpersonal conflict and criticism are important skills for members of the ministry and a major issue in effective leadership. the focus group continually expressed the admonition that the intervention for clergy members needed to be realistic and practical. This is particularly important. a survey instrument was developed to explore the issue of interpersonal criticism. stress. The robust response rate for this randomly-assigned survey suggests that confidence is warranted in the generalization of the results to the larger population. To gain a better understanding of the impact that criticism may have on members of the ministry. This survey was administered to a random sample of clergy that were representative of the study population. this survey more fully examined how members of the clergy view and respond to criticism. and so forth. Study 2 extended the information identified in the study 1 focus group. as well as the impact that criticism may have on their well-being. Specifically. 101 . it was identified as being the single most difficult area for members of the clergy. as this addresses a methodological concern identified in much of the previous related research.

frustrated. In order to develop a methodologically robust design. increase defensiveness. Study 3 involved the development and presentation of the biblically based. in general. The attitudinal section of the study 2 survey provided confirmation of the findings in the other sections of the MISS regarding the adverse impact of criticism on vocational and personal relationships. they overwhelmingly reported that they occasionally became angry. Further. interpersonal relationships. The survey additionally revealed that most clergy had received unfair. were likely more effective in providing and accepting criticism than the general public. clergy members report that criticism can affect self-esteem. Though not necessarily frequent. annoyed. and wound feelings. and vocational burnout. Further. Additionally.Though participants indicated that clergy. personal criticism within the last year. The program was specifically tailored to address the identified needs of the study population. and irritated when faced with personal criticism. this section established that clergy found their preparatory or seminary training was insufficient to effectively deal with interpersonal criticism and that denominational officials were not doing enough to address this important issue. it was reported to be very impactful. the intervention was based on the empirical evidence gleaned from studies 1 and 2 and the 102 . criticism was reported to impact job stress. psychologically sound Criticism Management for Clergy intervention designed to assist members of the clergy in handling criticism and criticismprone circumstances more effectively. personal and psychological health.

etc. given that it would be unlikely that individuals would participate in a program for which they had no expressed interest. The participants were randomly selected from a list of alliance members which was generated by the MAAG.) for the present exploratory study. here we have a representative cross-section of the clergy that is likely to be reflective of the vocation in general.participants were randomly selected. the PAC. administrative support. Any discussion on the actual development and presentation of the study 3 intervention will be inadequate. Perhaps future research may wish to tease apart denominational influences. However. this is not a true experimental design. and the participants. Additionally. Though there may be interesting differences among the denominations regarding this issue (seminary preparation. and experimental concerns identified in prior research. The MAAG identified those clergy who expressed some interest in the topic. contextual. the general findings would seem to reasonably apply to those members of the clergy for whom the program was developed and we can express confidence in the reliability of these results. this addresses important conceptual. As a result. As indicated elsewhere. A mere description regarding the particulars of the program 103 . the denominational diversity involved in the composition of the ministerial alliance is important. Rather than a study done involving a single or limited number of denominations. in that the random selection was not drawn from the entire population—the complete membership of the alliance. this diversity is appealing. This was a complex and logistically challenging process requiring substantial commitment of the research team.

will necessarily fail to capture the difficulties of completing such an ambitious endeavor. The majority of research in these areas concludes with a report of an attitudinal shift or adjustment. Additionally. their relationships. the program was well targeted. and their well-being (hypothesis 1). Each of the five general hypotheses identified in chapter one was confirmed. The curriculum content was highly rated. However. The follow-up analysis was equally positive and encouraging. The participants reported development of significant skills and benefits in mitigating the deleterious impact of criticism as a result of their 104 . Indications of actual behavioral change as a result of attending an intervention are seldom identified in much of the research reported in behavioral science. The overwhelmingly positive results found in study 3 confirmed the final two hypotheses. In both study 1 and study 2. satisfaction is received when considering both the immediate participant evaluations and the follow-up evaluations. The most frequently occurring comment regarding the session was the desire to have even more time. these two studies found that denominational and seminary resources were inadequate in addressing the issues and implications of interpersonal criticism (hypothesis 2) and that a program designed to help clergy better address this area would be beneficial (hypothesis 3). and the comments regarding the instruction were outstanding. the participants indeed reported that interpersonal criticism had detrimental effects on their vocation. This can reasonably be construed as an indication that the topic struck a chord with the participants.

Additionally. the development and empiric evaluation of the intervention has not been reported elsewhere in the academic literature. The methodological fidelity employed provides robust results that offer greater generalizablity than is found in much of the previous literature. these series of studies provide an important contribution to the literature. employed single-shot case studies. were based on unsubstantiated opinion. Further. academically focused research is clearly desirable in this area. Additional program development that more precisely identifies the 105 . which could result in greater general interest in the topic and provide a growing dialogue. The studies reported herein use experimental protocols that can provide greater confidence in inferring the study results to the larger population. Many previous reports involved inadequate or convenience samples. Though there is no shortage of information targeted to pastors on conflict resolution and criticism. there have heretofore been no peer-reviewed journal articles that involve the development and experimental assessment of a clergy-based targeted program of this type. or offered anecdotal suppositions.attendance in the intervention (hypothesis 4). More empiric-based. Future research may wish to add to the knowledge developed here. these benefits were still evident six weeks after the initial program and resulted in statistically significant self-ratings by the participants who assessed their pre-intervention handling of interpersonal criticism contrasted to their post-intervention efficacy in dealing with criticism (hypothesis 5). As a whole. Such research needs to be published in appropriate peer-reviewed journals.

When receiving criticism we should endeavor to listen carefully. and respond appropriately. 106 . When giving criticism we must ensure that we have the proper spirit. Notwithstanding the necessity of careful research and review. The studies reported here have only begun the work that is warranted. lest we get overly focused on the details and the methods involved in any empirical study. that we are striving to help others to improve. Jesus tells us that if we are criticized because of our belief or faith in him. including criticism. assess thoughtfully. All that we do must be reflected in sound biblical direction and principles. The Bible is filled with guidance on how we can better address many of life‟s challenges. it is a blessing (Mat 5: 11-12).more salient elements that are beneficial in assisting the clergy to better address the consequences of interpersonal criticism should be considered. to grow. Offering the curriculum or some modification to larger populations under methodologically controlled conditions is also needed to further support the findings identified above. to recover. ultimately we must realize that it is God who is in control. Though we can offer strategies and techniques to address some of the issues involved with our imperfect human nature. an accurate attitude. Finally. or to develop. one must remember that only those things which are undertaken with the proper spirit and attitude will be successful. to prosper. some of which were discussed herein. the most important message is how we should strive to be more Christ-like in our lives and in how we handle criticism. and a correct motive.

it is here that we find the vital lesson for all of us. 107 . and by the political rulers who were troubled by his message and impact. Christ. the very embodiment of perfection in character and deed. As a result. Considering the mindset of a forgiving Christ can allow us to view criticism differently and overcome some of the tribulations we experience as a result. by those who thought only they were the truly religious.Dealing with criticism can be very difficult. The greatest teacher and extraordinary leadership role model was criticized by his disciples who often misunderstood him. However. he faced the ultimate criticism. the criticism of the cross. Though he was criticized and crucified—he arose. was constantly criticized.

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APPENDIX A MINISTERIAL INTERPERSONAL SKILLS SURVEY 118 .

how would you characterize the way in which most members of the clergy tend to receive criticism from others? ______ Defensively ______ Acceptingly .Ministerial Interpersonal Skills Survey This is an anonymous survey designed to gather information for a larger research effort addressing interpersonal issues among members of the clergy. particularly issues involving interpersonal criticism. Would you suggest that this result would be similar among members of the clergy? _______ Yes _______ No Please explain: 4. 1. difficulty in handling criticism and criticismprone situations was identified as one of the major problems in leadership effectiveness.g. In your experience. how would you characterize the way in which most members of the clergy generally tend to offer criticism: ______ Productively (Effectively / Kindly) ______ Destructively (Relatively Poorly / Harshly) 7. handling conflict / criticism. 2. etc. how would you characterize the way in which most people generally tend to offer criticism: ______ Productively (Effectively / Kindly) ______ Destructively (Relatively Poorly / Harshly) 5. Please list the top three interpersonal skills that you believe are essential for members of the clergy: (e.) 1. In your experience. listening. Which of the above skills do you believe can cause the most difficulty for clergy and congregations? 3. In your experience. In your experience. how would you characterize the way in which most people tend to receive criticism from others? ______ Defensively ______ Acceptingly 6. 3 2.. patience. In a recent study involving public sector administrators.

do you feel that you: (Check all that apply) _____ Always assess and respond to the criticism effectively _____ Offer a robust defense _____ Occasionally offer a “counterattack” _____ Retreat / withdraw _____ 11. Does criticism you receive cause you to occasionally: (Select all that apply) _____ Become angry _____ Become annoyed _____ Become frustrated _____ Become irritated _____ Other:__________________ 9. When criticized. Do you believe that members of congregations could benefit from learning how to better give and receive criticism more effectively? _____ Yes _____ No 13. can poorly delivered criticism: (Check all that apply) _____ Impact ones self esteem? _____ Make one feel defensive? _____ Hurt ones feelings? _____ Other: _________________ 10. In your opinion. Do you feel that you and other members of the clergy would benefit from learning how to better give.8. Do you believe that biblical precepts and examples can be used to assist clergy and congregations to more effectively consider criticism? _____ Yes _____ No 120 . receive. and even solicit criticism more effectively? _____ Yes _____ No 12. Do you believe that the consequences of destructive criticism can lead to: (Check all that apply) _____ Job stress _____ Health issues _____ Relationship issues _____ Interpersonal stress _____ Family difficulties _____ Burnout _____ Other: ___________________ 14.

g.15. Using the 1-5 scale listed below. give. _____ g. Criticism that is handled poorly by the recipient can lead to adverse professional consequences. please rate your level of agreement with the following statements: 1= Strongly disagree 2= Disagree somewhat 3 = Neither agree or disagree 4=Agree somewhat 5 = Strongly agree _____a. Criticism can be a significant stressor for members of the clergy. My preparatory or seminary training for the ministry provided little or no specific training to deal with (e. receive. which of the following have you experienced? (Check all that apply) _____ a) You were criticized by a congregation member. _____ b) You were criticized unfairly. How frequently do you actively seek to receive criticism from others? (circle one) Almost Never / Rarely / Occasionally / Frequently 17. _____ f) Other: ____________________________________ 121 . as I know the other person may not want to hear what I have to say. Criticism of performance at work can impact relationships at home. I believe that biblical precepts and examples can be used to assist clergy and congregations to more effectively consider criticism? _____ h. _____ c) A member voiced doubts to you directly about your faith.. I find giving criticism to be difficult at times. _____d. I agree with researchers who have suggested that denominational administration should provide more training and educational opportunities to members of the ministry to deal with issues associated with interpersonal criticism. 16. _____b. solicit) interpersonal criticism. _____ f. _____ e) A member questioned your devotion to the ministry. _____ d) You were criticized personally by someone in a leadership role in the congregation. Personal Criticism: In the last year or so. A program to better help members of the clergy deal with criticism could be beneficial. _____e. _____c.

Family Criticism: In the last year or so. Pastor. _____ b) A member questioned your family’s values. _____ d) Other: ____________________________________________ 19. Youth Pastor.) Years in current ministry position: _________ Years as a full-time member of the clergy: _________ Size of congregation: ____________ Highest Level of Education: ______ No College ______ Associates ______ Masters ______ Some College Credit ______ Bachelors ______ Doctorate _____ Other: ____________________ Seminary Graduate: Yes:_____ No:______ Year: ___________ Thank You! Please Return Your Survey via the Instructions Provided 122 . In considering the impact of criticism on members of the clergy. are there other issues or considerations that should be addressed? Please feel free to elaborate. which of the following have you experienced? (Check all that apply) _____ a) A member raised questions about how you or your family spends money.18. Pastor. _____ c) A member complained to you about someone in your family. Demographic Information: Denomination: ______________________________________ Gender: _____ Age: _____________ Ministerial Position: _________________________________ (Sr. Assoc. etc.

____7. I always receive criticism from others effectively. ____2. 123 . I seldom experience an emotional response when dealing with criticism. ____5. I seldom feel stress when receiving interpersonal criticism from others. ____8. I always offer criticism to others constructively. I can easily view criticism as simply receiving information from others. This exercise is solely for your personal self-reflection. I believe that I am „above average‟ in my ability to offer criticism without eliciting anger or frustration from others. ____6. Strongly / /Somewhat/ Neither agree/ Somewhat / / Strongly agree / Agree / agree / nor disagree / disagree / Disagree / Disagree 7----------6----------5--------------4----------------3---------------2-------------1 ____1. Your responses will not be collected or assessed. Handling criticism effectively is an essential skill for members of the clergy. ____3. ____4.APPENDIX B INTERPERSONAL CRITICISM SCALE QUESTIONS Using the 7-point scale. I believe that I am „above average‟ in my ability to receive criticism without getting angry or frustrated. please respond to the following items.

Family 4. The Bible and Criticism 6. Focus on Information 4. History of Criticism 3.APPENDIX C OUTLINE OF CRITICISM MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM 1. The ABC‟s of Responding to Criticism 124 . Health 3. Criticism: Is it better to Give or Receive? 10. Appraising Criticism: The LAURA Method 12. How Would Jesus Criticize? 7. Criticism as Information 13. Vocation 2. Benefits of Criticism 8. Giving Criticism more Effectively 11. The Research on Clergy 1. Causes of Criticism 5. The Research on Criticism b. Criticism and the Clergy: What‟s the Toll a. Redefining Criticism a. Using the GRIPE approach b. Receiving and Appraising Criticism a. Critical Communication 9. Career 2.

Criticism Techniques 15. Scenarios and Practice 125 .14. Becoming an Effective Criticism Manager 16.

I have used specific techniques or elements presented in the Workshop. Your responses are completely anonymous. Can you offer a specific example (keeping it anonymous) regarding a recent specific event that was impacted by attendance at this workshop? IV. ______ 6. Using the following 7-point scale. how would you have rated yourself in handling criticism prior to attending this workshop? _______ (1-10) Thank you. please respond to the following items: Strongly / /Somewhat/ Neither agree/ Somewhat / / Strongly agree / Agree / agree / nor disagree / disagree / Disagree / Disagree 7----------6----------5--------------4----------------3---------------2-------------1 ______ 1. In the last few weeks.APPENDIX D POST INTERVENTION FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS (Electronically delivered via on-line survey software) Evaluation of Ministerial Workshop: Criticism Management for Clergy Recently you attended the above entitle workshop. ______ 3. Since completing the Ministerial Workshop I have improved my response to criticism. ______ 5. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 = “poor” and 10 = “Excellent”. ______ 2. The Criticism Management workshop was not valuable. 126 . II. I. ______ 4. The Criticism Management topic should continue to be offered to members of the clergy. The best technique or element of the workshop was: 3. Improvement Measures: 1. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 = “poor” and 10 = “Excellent”. A similar workshop designed for members of the congregation would be useful. ______ 7. For me. the best part of the workshop was: 2. The Ministerial Workshop on Criticism Management was beneficial. I think differently about criticism since completing the workshop. how would you rate yourself in handling criticism after attending this workshop? _______ (1-10) 2. Do you have any specific suggestion for improvement of this workshop? III. Please Complete the following: 1. We are evaluating that program and would appreciate your comments.