How to Deal with Criticism
When criticized, carefully evaluate the criticism to see if it is true.
a. Go to God and ask Him if it is true.
2 Corinthians 13:5a Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith… (NCV)
b. Go to friends, family and people who you love and trust and ask them if it is true.
Proverbs 27:6a Faithful are the wounds of a friend… (NKJV)
c. If God and your loved ones confirm that you need to change, then get on the road to overcoming.
Psalm 51:10a Create in me a clean heart, O God. (NLT)
Remember that God is a loving God who has your best interest in mind. He will only take you through a process to heal you and bless others around you. He will not condemn you. His purpose is to bless you. You are safe in His hands.
If it is true:
a. Have the humility and courage to admit that you need to change and grow.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV)
b. Decide to get on the road to change and reconciliation now.
c. Ask God and people for forgiveness where necessary.
d. Make yourself accountable to key people around the issue.
e. Continually ask God to help you grow.
If it is not true: Deal with unfair criticism in the following ways:
a. Know that it happens to everyone.
Yes, even a good person like you will receive criticism in life that is not fair. Someone somewhere will eventually speak evil of you. Look at David, Moses, Joseph, and Jesus. No one escapes this life without receiving unfair criticism, so don’t get caught up in the unjustness of it all. Don’t feel overly sorry for yourself. One of the most dangerous places in life for each of us is when we start to say out loud, “No one appreciates me.” It is fertile soil for the enemy of our souls to plant bitterness and we all know that bitterness will defile all those around us. We must keep our heads, know that these things happen and not throw a personal pity party. It one of the absolute worst things we could do to ourselves and those around us.
b. Decide to be at peace as far as it depends on you, even if others don’t do the right thing.
We want to keep the blessing of God on our own lives and live in such a way that we create an opportunity for the best-case scenario for all involved down the road.
Romans 12:18-19 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,” says the Lord. (NCV)
c. Decide now to speak the truth in love.
This means it is okay to tell someone what you feel is the truth in the situation. Speak in a measured and composed way. Sometimes we must put a couple of days between ourselves and the needed talk with others just to make sure we are thinking right. Pray through it and approach the conversation with the fruit of the spirit and a heart that has the best interest of all involved, even the one criticizing you.
d. Decide that you will do your best to work things out in a Godly way.
e. Decide that even if people do the wrong thing, you will do the right thing.
f. Always leave the door open for future reconciliation.
Important: When you can’t get resolve after you are unfairly criticized, keep your focus on the job that you have to do.
a. Don’t get distracted.
When Sanballat and Tobiah were criticizing Nehemiah and the Jews as they built the wall. Nehemiah recognized that they just wanted to stop the work.
Nehemiah 4:3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building-if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (NIV)
Nehemiah 6:2-3 But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (NIV)
When Sanballat and Tobiah accused Nehemiah and the Jews of coming against the King, this is how they responded:
Nehemiah 6:8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” (NIV)
Then they circled the wagons to protect the work and each other, which is sometimes necessary in extreme situations.
Nehemiah 4:15-17When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. (NLT)
Now this is metaphorically speaking here, we don’t need physical weapons today. Our weapons are spiritual weapons like bible wisdom and prayer. We do however, at times need to circle up and inform everyone so we can protect the work of the ministry and the sheep in the local church or, for some reading this, protect our work in business and the people we are associated with.
Be careful not to be sucked into a continual argument with those trying to cause trouble. Jesus spoke once and spoke well when accused. I think this is a good idea for us as well. After that discussion, get to work and finish the job. Like when you are a player in sports and angry people in the stands are booing you and your team, remember they can only be a factor if you let them. Don’t let it get to you. Don’t get distracted. Get the work done and do it well. Unfair criticism will go by the wayside and be discredited in time. Stay focused on what God has given you to do and finish the task at hand.
b. Know that your credibility will be restored over time.
The Lord is your protection. He is your defender. The honest truth is that when things are very difficult, it sometimes takes more than days or weeks for people to see your integrity and faithfulness. Sometimes it takes months or years, but walk it out and you will see improvement incrementally. The important thing for you to remember when you are unfairly criticized is that when you do right, the Lord’s blessing remains on you and He will bless you, your family and the work of your hands.
Proverbs 26:2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim. (NLT)
A time came when the wall was built and Nehemiah had a great place in history, but for a couple of months there were some nasty things said about him out there. You, too, will eventually be honored by God and others if you don’t get distracted. Keep the right spirit and finish the work.
c. Take all your hurt to God and let Him heal you. The truth is, it hurts when people criticize you.
1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT)
Ouch, ouch, ouch! How can people believe the ugly things they say about you? It hurts so badly sometimes. In these times, remember that Jesus is the faithful high priest who was tempted in every manner. The word of God says “He was despised and rejected by men.” Go to the faithful high priest, Jesus, in prayer. He knows what you are going through and He is the one who will heal your heart.
d. Pray for those who have criticized and hurt you.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” (NCV)
When we pray for those who have hurt us, we protect our hearts from fear and bitterness and we unleash the greatest possibility for the healing of those who are unfairly critical. This would be the best case scenario.
So trust God and follow the path that the word of God clearly gives you and you will see that God will be faithful to complete the good work that He has begun in you!
I hope this is helpful to those of you who are facing difficulties.
Grace and Truth,
Pastor Stan Russell