As a recovered perfectionist turned work-in-progress, I am not above criticism — no one is. Even at my age, there are still rough edges to be smoothed out, little white lies to correct, and maturity that needs more seasoning. I can take it just as well as I can dish it, or so I thought.
Criticism can be a cruel teacher but a worthy lesson. When administered appropriately and constructively, it is invaluable. But, when it’s tainted with ego, bias, and judgment, it can harm the receiver, as well as, the giver.
Admittedly, I bristle at negative feedback. I’d
Jesus provides some answers. Here’s a man on assignment and he’s determined to execute his father’s plan—no matter what. Sound familiar? You’re working hard at school, work, home, your place of worship or in your community, all in service of your faith, family and all you hold dear. You’re doing your best to perform well and then—without fail— here come the critics, the naysayers, and the haters. Nothing you do can silence them or win them over. Their displeasure is persistent and frustrating. Keep in mind, it could be worse.
Ultimately, Jesus’ harshest critics would crucify him. From accusing him of violating longstanding rules and traditions to criticizing the company he kept, he was scrutinized at every turn of his journey to Calvary. And yet, it didn’t stop him. Step by step, he met his critics with intelligent responses and strategic silence. In fact, you might credit his battles with his critics for helping him become the powerful symbol of love over hate that he represents today.
Critics serve a purpose. Without them, how would you improve? An athlete doesn’t perfect their skills without a critical coach. A writer doesn’t hone their craft without an exacting copy editor. A chef doesn’t create culinary masterpieces without a discriminating palate.
Even when they’re wrong, critics serve a purpose. Let their harsh words stoke the fire that motivates you! Could Jesus have held his post on the cross if his faith and his resolve had gone untested? So, the next time sharp criticism leaves you feeling some kind of way, remember to:
There’s a saying: A hit dog will bark. Criticism can feel like a Sunday sermon written with you in mind. If criticism triggers your self-doubt or insecurities, it could be a sign that you need to check yourself. Consider whether your reaction to criticism is rooted in reality or your perception of the situation, which can be influenced by your life experiences, emotions, and yes, even past trauma.
If you know who you are (and whose you are), then the opinions of others should never outweigh how you feel about yourself. More importantly, naysayers don’t compare to how your Heavenly Father feels about you: He loves you unconditionally— flaws and all. He wouldn’t treat you with intolerance, disrespect or abuse and neither should anyone else. You don’t have to tolerate bullies at school, home, work, or even in your place of worship. However, you do need to recognize when He’s still refining your character, and learn to embrace those opportunities with grace and gratitude.
Don’t Confront the Critic
Was the feedback you received unfair or harmful? Is there malicious intent behind it? Truthfully, you may never know the answer, but you’ll remember how their words made you feel. Regardless, someone who isn’t vested in your progress doesn’t merit your time and energy. Put them on your prayer list and stay on task. Don’t get mad, be motivated.