Handling Criticism Well
If you are one of the few who clicked to read this, even after the title, my hat is off to you!
This is not a conversation we often go out of our way to have, or even hear about. Criticism can be really tough. Truth is, for many, life is filled with so much negativity that we find ourselves running from any kind of criticism, because we feel like we simply can’t handle even a little more.
Let me start by saying, not all criticism is created equal. The Bible talks about many different types, but for the sake of this short conversation, I’ll narrow criticism into a few different categories. These help me see the difference. If you want to see some Scriptures that help shape these categories, shoot me an email and I’ll send them your way. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mudslinging - For whatever reason, someone doesn’t like something about you. Maybe it’s warranted, maybe it’s not. Their intent however, is simply to throw it in your face. There isn’t a relational component here. They see bad, and they want to make sure you know about it.
My advice for mudslinging? Duck when you can, and when you can’t, shake it off and move on.
Offense - This is when; whether on purpose or not, intended or not, and as strange as this may sound… true or not, it doesn’t really matter, is hurt by you. The heart of the situation is, someone you care about, and someone who cares about you is hurt by something you said or did.
My advice for offense? Apologize, and work to find resolve and toward restoring the relationship. Don’t get stuck trying to decide if it was justified or not. Offense often isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about how it makes us feel. We care for these people, so we should meet them where they are. The Bible teaches us how to handle this; face to face with love, in order to restore the relationship. It’s a powerful thing to be a part of, and it is worth the hard work.
Feedback - This may be at a job, or at a church you’re serving at. This is information about your performance to help you see where you are strong, and where you are weak.
My advice for feedback? Listen, learn, consider, and grow. Sometimes feedback is solid and really helpful, sometimes it comes from a place of opinion or preference. Either way, try to learn all you can, and apply what you learn the best you can to be successful where you’re planted.
Judgement - This is when someone makes a definitive decision about who you are, or who you aren’t. You are deserving or you’re not. You are capable or you’re not. You are gifted or you’re not.
My advice for judgement? When judgement is about someone deciding a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about you, that is a job reserved for God. Don’t let people determine such big statements for you. Trust God to make these definitive statements and decisions about you and your life.
Correction - This is when someone in authority in your life, or someone in a place of spiritual covering for your life, points out: an area of weakness, wrong-thinking, poor behavior, harmful habits, or something of the like. Their intent is to shine light on an area that needs attention and growth. The really great ones, they stick with us and help us to walk out of the broken places, and into a place of wholeness and healing.
My advice for correction? When someone in leadership or authority over your life shares an area of correction, and is willing to walk with you to help you grow and move forward; take a moment to celebrate that you are receiving one of the greatest gifts you can receive. Lean in, listen, learn, grow, and allow God to help you grow and change. After it’s all said and done, commit in your heart to do the same favor for someone else you love and lead.
Criticism isn’t always worth a ton of our energy. Sometimes it should honestly just be placed in the trash. Yet, handling and hearing the right kind of criticism from the right people, and taking steps from there will radically change your life for the better. Don’t be scared to receive it and use it as a catalyst for change and forward movement in your life!
Proverbs 27:6 says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy”
Remember, sometimes the people standing in our face helping us to see and face a hard truth are the ones who love us the most; and sometimes the people throwing the most compliments our way aren’t really committed to us at all.
Let’s commit to listen, discern what’s happening, and respond accordingly!
- Daniel Sabo