Monday Morning Devotion-February 22, 2021
Coping with Criticism
God bless you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Matthew 5:11
*Reprint from November 13, 2017
Is there any amongst you who likes to be criticized? I didn't think so. Criticism hurts. It may be justified. Then it hurts even more. Criticism is just something that is hard to cope with, but it is a part of life.
Charles Stanley writes: "Criticism is inevitable and it hurts. But it can be an opportunity to experience God's power if you'll respond in a manner that honors Him."
OK, how's that? How do we respond in that way?
First, know that criticism is a term for judgment or evaluation, good or bad. This immediately brings us to the old standby that you are just being offered 'constructive criticism." It's not to hurt you but to help you. Yeah, and that's supposed to make you feel better, huh?
So, really how should we, as Christians, deal with criticism? Here's a few ideas I picked up online: (www.wiki.com)
1) Know the difference between destructive and constructive criticism: This first step is important. Where is this feedback coming from and what are the intentions behind it? Constructive criticism is meant to help you and destructive criticism is meant to cause hurt. Focus on the message and the delivery to help you differentiate.
2) Accept that you are not perfect: Every person has flaws: Is this criticism aimed at helping you with a flaw and how can you adjust?
3) Don't take it personally: To be able to deal with criticism you can't take it personally. The other person is not calling you a horrible person. Just pointing out an area in which you could improve.
4) Work at being less sensitive: If you always, immediately, get defensive and usually feel upset when given helpful feedback then you won't be able to improve. Focus on this message instead of instantly thinking of all the mean and hateful things that have been said to you at other times. Control your emotions.
Those four things will help in changing your perspective so you can better deal with criticism. Pray about it. Ask the Lord to help you realistically understand what's best.
Now to deal with constructive criticism:
1) Make sure you understand the message: Once you have determined that it is constructive try to figure out what you can take from it that will help you improve.
2) Determine the truth to it: Is it from someone with your best interest in mind?
3) Make a game plan to address it: Figure out how and how much time to
devote to it.
4) Thank the person for being honest: This is a sign of maturity.
5) Stop making excuses: If it's valid don't make excuses why that person is wrong.
6) Remember constructive criticism can make you a better person: Embrace it.
Then there is the destructive criticism. Here are some suggestions for handling it:
1) Understand the true motive behind it: Why is he/she doing this? Learning
this will make you feel better.
2) Look for the grain of truth: It may seem mean-spirited but is there
anything about it that is true and can help you?
3) Remember that words can never hurt you: Criticism can't steal your
money, slap your face or crash your car.
4) Stay confident: Stay strong and remember who you are.
And of course, if you can do all of those things you are truly a saint. But I think it is important to consider each of those and execute whichever ones will work when that particular kind of criticism crops up. For criticism can build you up or tear you down.
The fact is that criticism runs rampant in our world today and we have to be prepared to deal with it, learn from it, not let it harm us, and be better from having experienced and dealt with it properly.
As Stanley says: "You can trust God to work through your obedience to Him."
In our scripture today found in Matthew 5:11 Jesus, delivering the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount says, as the final one, that we are blessed when "people insult us, persecute us and falsely say all kind of evil against us."
Why did Jesus use reversed values in the Beatitudes? The Quest Study Bible says this:
"Jesus wanted to dispute the conventional wisdom of that time which said the wealthy and influential enjoyed more of God's blessings. Jesus wanted His followers to see that material things are only temporary and certainly not the only reality. He didn't want them to think of their current situations as signs of God's blessing or judgment. Instead He wanted them to see that the poor can be spiritually worthy. (James 2:5)"
Criticism may come our way in many different forms and in various situations and locations. It is good to deal with it properly and learn what positive things can be taken from it.
The best way to cope with criticism is to remember that it can't destroy us because the Lord is always there to protect us.
Prayer: Lord may we learn from criticism, both the good and the bad, and know there is a reason for it, and you are always there for us. Amen!