At some in our lives, we will all have to confront the criticism that comes with sharing our personal as well as spiritual lives with others. Sometimes the criticism that we will receive from others will fall into two categories: just and unjust. Regardless of which one we may encounter, for many of us it will be both, criticism is definitely something we all need in order to experience the necessary growth needed in to order obtain success and progression in our life. However, what is most important is deciding how to respond to the criticism will face during our lifetime. God has provided a simple blueprint to show us how to respond to criticism.
When faced with criticism, especially harsh criticism, the hardest thing for many of us to do is listen. Our first instinct is to respond hasty and with anger in response to criticism we may feel is underserving or unjust. James 1:19 says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” We should be willing to hear to listen to what the person has to say before we begin to refute what the person has to say. This leads us to the our next response to criticism. We should be slow to speak ( James 1:19). The person should be allowed to finish speaking before respond. If you speak to soon, then you may find yourself speaking rashly or in anger before you fully become aware of the person’s intended point of criticism or advice. Many of us have been in a situation in which we have incorrectly responded to some form of criticism after hearing just the first 5 or 6 words from the person because we didn’t like what we heard. Regardless of how we may feel, we have to allow others to finish speaking before to speak. Effective communication is so important. Thirdly, we must be slow to become angry (James 1:19-20). The scripture states that, ” For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Becoming angry with someone will not change the situation or their intended criticism. We must be like God, who was slow to anger, patient, and long-suffering with those who offend him. We are “those” individuals who offend God on a daily basis, yet He remains slow to become angry with His children. Despite the many times we have offended God, He has always responded to us in a gentle manner. Proverbs 15:1 states, ” A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Just as God is gracious with us even when we offend Him. We, too, should be gracious to those who offend us. Lastly, pray about the criticism. Before you begin to seek the advice of others, always go before God and pray for wisdom. The words states, ” I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). We not only have to consider the source of the criticism but the delivery of the criticism as well. We have to remember that everyone will as well polished as others in their delivery of said criticism. However, God will use who he sees fit to deliver a word to you. However, we must still be reminded of the source. Before you begin to share personal information, consider the other person’s possible motives. their level of expertise, or wisdom. Whereas some people are seeking to genuinely help you, others may be criticizing you to hurt you.
Accepting criticism, whether just or unjust, is hard for many of us to deal with on a personal and/or spiritual level. We may feel as if we are being attack or our experiences being called into question. At times, we all have failed in our response to criticism. However, God has provided us with a blueprint to help us navigate through the process. Try God because His word never fails.