Feedback has been called “the breakfast of champions.” Unfortunately, most of us have a hard time eating it. So often we misinterpret this feedback or constructive criticism as a personal attack, and in pride and anger, we counterattack in self-defense. What we could have received as positive stepping stones, we turn into stumbling blocks. How can we learn to receive personal criticism in a God-honoring way?
- Maintain an attitude of humility. This is the most important (and most difficult) thing of all. Probably every time we get offended at a critical word, the root of the problem (in our own hearts) is pride. Proverbs 13:10a says, “Only by pride cometh contention” (KJV).
- Give an honest ear to every criticism. Not every criticism will be valid, but it’s likely there is a grain of truth in what is being said. A rule of thumb should be, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
- Repent and make appropriate restitution. There are criticisms that will be honest and just. When we receive criticism revealing sinful attitudes, words, or actions, we should thank God for these and repent. We show our repentance by changing a sinful attitude or by seeking forgiveness from the one we offended with our words.
- Consider—but do not dwell on—all criticisms. There are times when people will criticize us for things that are not sinful. “I don’t like the way you dress.” “You really should smile more often.” “Do you have to sing so loud?” “You really shouldn’t preach with notes.”
- View criticism as a way God makes us more like Jesus. Oh, how crucial this is! God’s sovereignty in our lives is so practical. Believing that God uses even others’ evil words for our good will keep us from so much bitterness and resentment.