Responding to Verbal Aggression

When Criticism Becomes Hostile  
Dr. Steven Minor
Church Politics Administrator

Proverbs 26:4, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.”

Proverbs 26:5, “Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

Not every comment, criticism or remark deserves a response, especially when they come with a hidden agenda, evolving into outright and hostile attacks. As a rule, any question coming at you with a hidden agenda must never be answered with a direct reaction.  Unworthy verbal assaults do not deserve a valid answer; in fact you are only enabling subtle undermining when you do.  Do not play along with their game; set your own course.

Following is a list of responses designed to stall out attacks and redirect conversations back into your control.

  • “It must be hard for you to feel like you must always be in control of everything.”
  • “What’s with the drama?”
  • “And she still can’t figure out why she can’t get a boyfriend.”
  • (When compared to another church), “Were the people friendly to each other, everyone felt welcomed instead of just a choice few, no criticizing or bickering, any people gathered into gossip huddles, anyone trying to undermine the Pastor and the work of ministry and mission within the church? I wonder if there is a connection between those things and a good church.”
  • “Uhm, well . . . anyway.”
  • “And here is another example of how little you understand the work of ministry.”
  • “It’s easy to stand on the outside and criticize where you only have to complain about problems and safely avoid dealing with solutions.”
  • “It looks like you are trying to create issues here when none exist.”
  • “It seems ever since _________ had her feelings hurt about _________, there has been quite a charged degree of ill will lingering.”
  • “How would you have preferred the response?”
  • “Well how about that . . ..”
  • “Is that your idea or did someone put you up to ask that?”
  • “Do you own a Bible? We would be glad to get you one, because you don’t seem to be very familiar with Biblical teachings on this point.”
  • “Reality is not your strong suit, is it?”
  • “Just exactly how much daytime television are you watching?”