Faith Matters - Current Posts

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Consider the Source

When we’re the target of criticism, it’s easy to think of just ourselves. But as Christians, we need to think about our critics as well.
The Bible tells us, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” We need to look at what is happening in our critics’ lives. Why are they so angry? What is their need?
Sometimes the criticism has little to do with us and everything to do with the critic. Some people don’t know how hurtful their words are. They’ve never learned to be kind. They’re not just that way with you; they’re that way with everyone. We sometimes need to feel sorry for the critic, instead of being angry with the critic. Hostile criticism from someone may be a sign that something else is going on in the critic’s life – a lost job, poor health or low self-esteem. All these may burst out in criticism against others. And you may be a handy target. Hurting people often act out against parents, teachers, friends or persons in positions of authority. You may be the target of criticism because of who you are, not what you’ve done.
Some people are critical of everyone and everything. We should not reward their dysfunction by taking their words as seriously as those of thoughtful, loving, careful and occasional critics. When you are criticized, analyze the critic and the criticism. Consider the source.

Related Scripture: Philippians 2:4-5

© 2007 Leith Anderson

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Take it Slow

Coping with criticism is never easy, but the Bible has some practical advice to help us deal with it.
In the New Testament, James wrote, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
It’s important to hear what a critic says. Restate the criticism back to that person to be sure you correctly understand. It doesn’t mean the critic is right; it’s just that we need to humbly listen.
In the book of Proverbs it says, “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
The advice here is to take it slow when you’re insulted or criticized. Take a deep breath. And ask God for wisdom. Tell God what has happened and ask him if you should answer your critic or just let it go. Think through your response. Don’t escalate the situation; deescalate.
Then it’s always good to talk it over with a godly Christian. Many of us are deeply hurt by criticism and it’s easy to get defensive and angry. Talking to a wise and godly Christian can help to settle us down so we can process what’s been said and test some possible responses.
Personally, I’ve been enormously helped by trusted fellow Christians. They have helped me respond with strength and love. They have counseled me to accept the criticism and change. They have helped me to laugh it off when appropriate.
Coping with criticism is much easier if we hear out our critics, pray before responding and seek the counsel of godly Christians.

Related Scripture: James 1:19 & Proverbs 12:16

© 2007 Leith Anderson

Monday, August 20, 2007

Handling Criticism

I once served on the board of directors of an organization that hired Christians for a variety of ministries across North America. One of the questions asked of the references was how the applicant handled criticism. It was invariably one of the lowest ratings the applicant received. In fact, I don't remember reading a reference of anyone described as enjoying criticism or receiving it with enthusiasm.
I think we can safely assume that none of us enjoys being criticized. So what should we do when we’re the one being criticized?
We should listen to the criticism. The New Testament says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” It’s important to pay close attention because the critic may be right.
David was a man in the Old Testament whom no one would want to criticize. He was the king! But he had a critic named Nathan, who was a prophet. Nathan dared to confront King David about his adultery and murder. Now, it’s not easy to confront a king. You do so at risk of your life! But Nathan had a message that David needed to hear and he was right to confront him. David’s response was stunning. David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He listened to the criticism, considered it and realized that Nathan was right.
We would be wise to heed David’s example. We should hear our critics out and humbly consider what they have to say. Because, often they’re right!

Related Scripture: James 1:19 & 2 Samuel 12:13

© 2007 Leith Anderson