Handling Criticism (1)
"My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right." Proverbs 23:16 NIV
Are you being criticized? If so, try doing these three things:
(1) Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Learn how to interpret criticism by asking: (a) In what spirit is it given? If your critic's attitude is kind, rest assured it's meant to be constructive. (b) When is the criticism given? When somebody criticizes you publicly, usually his/her intentions aren't the best. (c) Why is the criticism given? Solomon says, "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out" (Pr 20:5 NIV). Hurting people hurts others, so always ask, "Is the criticism given for my benefit, or just from personal hurt?"
(2) Don't take yourself too seriously. Face it; occasionally we all do stupid things. Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves and learn from their blunders.
(3) Look beyond the criticism and see the critic. Is it someone you respect? Are they constantly critical? If so don't place too much value on what they say; they're probably just projecting their frustration on to you - like the 12-year-old boy who hadn't spoken since he was born. After being served oatmeal for breakfast several weeks in a row he shouted, "Yuck, I hate this stuff!" His mother jumped up, hugged him and said, "We thought you couldn't talk. Why haven't you ever spoken to us?" Bluntly he exclaimed, "Because up until now everything's been OK." Some folks only talk when they're ticked off. The important question is, does your critic sincerely want to help you?
Handling Criticism (2)
"Listen to advice... and in the end you will be wise." Proverbs 19:20 NIV
Let's take another look at handling criticism.
(1) Watch your attitude! Your negative attitude can be more destructive than somebody else's critical spirit. You know what they say: "A chip on your shoulder usually indicates wood higher up." Peter writes, "You have been called for this purpose, (Note: the call of Christ involves being misunderstood), since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1Pe 2:21-23 NAS). Hey, give it to God!
(2) Realize that good people get criticized! Jesus was called an over-eater (see Mt 11:19); a drinker (see Lk 7:34); a friend of questionable characters (Mt 11:19). People whose minds are polluted and whose vision isn't clear, won't understand behavior based on obedience to God. So, when your ideas and values conflict with theirs, try to be understanding.
(3) Stay physically and spiritually in shape! Exhaustion has a profound effect on the way we act and react. Elijah slipped in to depression because of weariness. Jezebel was relentless. Her opposition sapped his strength. Listen to him, "It is enough, now, O Lord, take away my life" (1Ki 19:4). How's that for a 'downer?' Watch out, Satan will take advantage of your weariness. When you're tired, you can become overly sensitive and miss the opportunity for growth that comes with the criticism.
Handling Criticism (3)
"A man's wisdom gives him patience." Proverbs 19:11 NIV
Let's take another look at handling criticism.
(1) Surround yourself with the right people! When you've optional time spend it with those who build you up, not tear you down. Quality time with the right people will galvanize you against the effects of the worst criticism. It'll also keep you from becoming critical yourself. When crows attack a hawk, the hawk doesn't counter-attack, instead it soars higher and higher in ever widening circles until the pests leave it alone. Good strategy! Circle above your adversaries rather than stooping to their level: Listen: "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel" (Pr 20:3 NIV). If your attitude is to have any effect on people it'll be because of your example, not your defensiveness.
(2) Concentrate on your mission - change your mistakes! Most of us do the opposite; when criticism comes we change our mission and concentrate on our mistakes. If you run every time you make a mistake you'll never accomplish anything; you'll live in constant frustration. The only real mistakes are the ones from which we learn nothing. So instead of dwelling on your mistakes, count on making some, growing wiser and moving on to finish the job. There's an old Arabian proverb that says, "If you stop every time a dog barks your road will never end." Don't let your mistakes become roadblocks, turn them into building blocks. Since "Iron sharpens iron," ask God to help you grow stronger through criticism (See Pr 27:17).
Handling Criticism (4)
"'Nazareth! Can any good thing come from there?' Nathaniel asked. 'Come and see' said Philip." John 1:46 NIV
Let's take one final look at handling criticism.
(1) Don't just see if there's a critic, see if there's a crowd. Mrs. Smith invited a well-known pianist to entertain at her dinner party. When it was over everyone praised his performance except one lady. "I thought he was lousy," she said. Immediately the hostess intervened: "Pay no attention to her. She doesn't know what she's talking about. She only repeats what she hears everybody else say." See if your critic has a cheering section; if they do, you may need to make some changes. George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, certainly had his critics, but he knew how to handle them. After one opening a critic stood up and shouted, "It's rotten!" To which Shaw replied, "I agree, but what are we against so many."
(2) Wait for time to prove them wrong. Time is your best ally. It forces deception to the surface and allows the truth to prove you right. When Nathaniel asked concerning Jesus, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip answered, "Come and see." Often as events unfold, the cause of the criticism will be eliminated and you'll be vindicated. No other politician in history had worse things said about him than Lincoln. The day after he delivered the Gettysburg Address, The Chicago Times called it, "Silly, flat, dish-watery utterances." Today millions flock to The Lincoln Memorial, but not a soul remembers the editor who wrote those scathing words.
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