All of us deal with criticism in our lives. And it’s typically given to us without asking for it. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, a neighbor or maybe even your mother-in-law that is always willing to give you their unwelcome opinion.
I will have to admit that I am NOT an expert in this area. I’m still learning. But, Jesus dealt with criticism, and so did the Apostle Paul–eventually at some point, we all will. Sometimes these cynical remarks are discouraging. They can cause us to doubt ourselves and create unnecessary worry in our lives. So whenever criticism starts coming my way, here are several questions I ask myself:
1 – How Well Does This Person Know Me?
One of the things that we have to learn is that just because someone has an opinion about something does not make them an expert.
You’ve got to understand WHO is doing the criticizing. People will often act before they think and make snap judgments on your character or actions based on one line you said in passing, when in actuality, they don’t know the background of your story or the reasoning in which you made that decision.
These are the people that we can’t take the time to listen to. Chances are, you probably don’t have time to try to convince them you’re a good person and explain your intentions.
BUT, you can (and should) listen to those closest to you. These are the people whose encouragement and rebuke you welcome. You’ve got to have people around you who are willing to tell you the truth.
2 – What Attitude Does The Person Criticizing Have?
Bottom line, if someone comes at me with a negative, condemning attitude, I write it off. The Bible says that we are called to speak the truth, but we are called to do so in love (Ephesians 4:15).
3 – Does What The Person Is Saying Pass Through The Filter Of Scripture?
Scripture in context is something we should all listen to. For example, a few weeks ago, a friend and I had some differences and I did not speak to this person for several days. Things were tense because we work around one another. She confronted me on this and said, “The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 that we are not supposed to let the sun go down on us while we are angry…I would say you have done that.”
I was busted—she was right. She had confronted me with a non-judgmental attitude and used Scripture in context, and I repented because I was wrong.
4 – Is This Criticism Personal Or Shared By Others?
Sometimes after something goes seemingly well (a successful presentation at work, the home completely in order when you get home, your kids were perfect at that restaurant with friends), you get praised and complimented by many. But often you will get ONE negative comment from someone, and ignore the positive comments, focusing on that one negative remark! And this negative remark probably isn’t even true! We cannot allow ourselves to dwell on that negative comment.
5 – Is This Worth My Time?
I used to try and fight every single ounce of criticism that came my way…and I realized I just can’t.
Now, there are some things that are worth my time, and I do address those. But often times, I am NOT going to change the person’s mind and “friendly debate” is out of the question, so it’s best to just move on.
In the end, we all have good things in our lives we need to focus on. The best thing being Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
So don’t spend your time fighting the critics, spend your time focusing on Jesus and the blessings He has given to all of us. He is the one we will spend eternity with in heaven, and His opinion is the only one that really matters.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18