1. Know that complaints are an issue in every area of ministry. The more you do not take complaints and criticism personally, the better off you will be emotionally and the more you will be effective in ministry.
2. Maintain some humility. Sometimes complaints are about an area where you need to improve.
3. Avoid getting defensive. It takes energy, and it undermines your effectiveness as a leader.
4. Apologize when necessary. It will go a long way toward defusing criticism.
5. Expect criticism and complaints when you take a stand or move in a clear direction as a leader. This is not about you; it is about the whole system reacting to an upset in the balance. Stay on course, and do not let it throw you. Coach other leaders to do the same.
6. Notice that complaints may bubble up in areas that are not related to the direction you are moving. For example, if you take a stand or make a move to develop worship in a new way, problems may come up in the youth group or the building committee. This is normal. Churches, like other systems, resist change in a variety of ways.
7. Watch how people express their views about something they dislike. Those who can define their position in terms of themselves are more mature than those who say “you should,” or “you should not” or “they always” or “they never.” This will give you a clue as to those who are more mature than others.
8. Use care when expressing YOUR views about something you do not like. Try not to react but to think through your response first. As above, define your position in terms of yourself rather than others: “I” rather than “you” or “they.” Take responsibility for your own position.
9. Notice when the petty everyday stuff starts getting to you. Some days, weeks and months it will wash off your back, other times it will be like fingernails on a chalkboard. This IS about you and your own emotional state, and finding some ways to get a little distance physically or emotionally will help.
10. Remember that a complaint-free church is probably going nowhere. That much togetherness works against growth and development. Complaints are part of the price of progress. Do not take it too seriously.