Benjamin Franklin once mused:
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain… and most fools do.”
I don’t like receiving criticism and, since I am being honest here, I don’t often appreciate it either. I understand that it comes with the territory. I understand that when processed correctly criticism can prove beneficial to my character, competence, and even toward Christ-likeness. But still, I don’t like it. Everything within me wants to avoid it. I find myself thinking: “There’s got to be some other way.”
But there is no other way. There is no life immune from criticism. There is no growth without criticism.
So the question, then, is: How to process criticism well? How do I learn to benefit from the criticism that I need, while at the same time learn to discard the criticism that comes from those Ben Franklin classifies as “fools”.
1. If it comes from a believer, view it as a kindness – oil for your head – an act of love.
Ask God to help you receive it and not refuse it. Or start openly crying, which is embarrassing. Be a man – be like David – “Let a righteous man strike me; it is a kindness.”
2. Make it easy for people to bring stuff to you.
It’s not easy to talk to someone about their sin or weakness. Thank them and assure them you’re glad they’d share with you. (And pray that you really would be glad!) Then you can hit the trapdoor button to drop them into the cellar.
3. Remember you ARE a sinner.
Hate to break it to you, but you will actually blow it from time to time. Last I checked, none of us have been completely sanctified yet. Except for my sister, who I think may have sinned once in her entire lifetime. But the rest of us will sin. We’ll blow it. We don’t do everything perfect. And even if I’m criticized unjustly for something, there’s plenty of other things I should be criticized and judged for, but won’t be, for Jesus paid for all my sins and failures.
4. There’s almost always some truth in every criticism, even if it’s inaccurate or given poorly.
There may still be something valuable for you to learn. There’s some reason they are perceiving things this way. Though Professor Grinchwold did humiliate me, my 3-d fly was kind of dumb.
5. Don’t be wise in your own eyes.
Assume people see things you can’t. We all have blind spots. There could be something you’re missing.
My thanks to Mark Altrogge for his excellent post, and for reminding us that sometimes wisdom is found through criticism.
As Solomon told us:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. ~ Proverbs 27.6