HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM

It doesn’t matter what your profession, criticism will be a part of it. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, there will always be criticism. Those with “high-profile” jobs can always expect double the criticism. Just like the football coach who if he runs the ball, everyone thinks he should have passed. If he passed everyone says, “The dummy should have ran the ball.”

Criticism is not just reserved for the world. The church is full of criticism too. It’s dished out in large quantities to the elder, the preacher, the bible class teacher, the song leader, the parent whose kids are too loud, the boy who doesn’t dress nice enough on Sunday morning, etc. So how do we handle criticism? How do we deal with it? Here are a few things to think about…

  1. Is the Criticizing done with Love? If someone comes to me with a bad, negative or condemning attitude, I just ignore it. The Bible does say, “Speak the truth…” but it says to do so “in love.” Feel free to come to me with anything, but do it unkind and unChristlike, and I won’t hear a word.
  2. Is The Criticism Personal or Shared By Others? The truth is we tend to focus on the negative and forget the positive. As ministers we can have 100 people tell us the sermon was great on Sunday and one person say we stink, and we focus on that one that was negative. We all do that. Or we fall for the line that I hate people using, “I’ve been talking to a lot of people and everyone is saying…” In most cases that’s not true. I once heard a person say, “There are a lot of us who don’t feel like he’s qualified to be a deacon.” I asked the man for names of those who felt the way he did. He back peddled and never brought it up again. He was simply giving his own personal opinion and adding some “others” to make it sound good. Don’t bring that garbage around here. That’s not Christlike.
  3. Is the Person Criticising a new Critic or a Regular? What I mean is if it’s the same guy complaining about everything all the time, then you can probably bet he needs to be ignored. Some people feel it’s their gift to complain and criticize. And when you find someone that does nothing but criticize … ignore the criticism and be sympathetic for the people that have to live with him.
  4. Does the Person Criticizing know Me Personally? One thing I’m learning is just because someone can send an email or write a letter, that does not make them an expert. I know people often act before they think and you have to understand that. But an unsigned angry letter or an email from someone you don’t even know, both deserve the trash can. In fact let me say this: If you write mean-spirited letters that you don’t have the courage to sign, that’s sinful. If you have a problem with a brother … go to him. But let me add, I am more than willing to listen to anyone close to me who comes with a kind, concerned spirit. I’m always willing to listen to concerns, and I’m more than willing to admit when I’ve done wrong, made a mistake or just plain screwed up. I do make mistakes on a regular basis, and I’m willing to listen to people and their opinion matters to me greatly. I do NOT know it all, and I’m constantly learning and growing.
  5. Is What They Are Saying based on Scripture or their Opinion? When someone comes at you with an “I think” but cannot back it up with any scripture … I don’t really take it to heart.
  6. Is it Something Worth the Time? The majority of criticism I get over my blog or other matters isn’t worth my time. I just don’t have time to argue. There are times to address issues that someone complains about, but not every time. Jesus gave us a great example of this when in the bible, there were many times that Jesus refused to even answer his critics.
  7. One last thing, Smother Your Critics with Kindness. I have found that when people come to me angry or with criticism about something, instead of returning their venom I try and smother them with kindness. I few years ago, I got an angry mean-spirited letter that was from a woman I’d only met once. I wasn’t sure how to respond or if I needed to respond. I called an older minister for advice and he told me, “There are only two good options. Either throw it away and forget it, or write her back and smother her with kindness.” He was so smart. I chose the second. One year later she wrote me a second letter apologizing for her first. Would you believe we’re friends now?

I know criticism hurts, especially unfounded criticism. Maybe the best advice comes from a Jewish carpenter who said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
18 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Very good. Thanks,
    Paula

  2. Greg says:

    Amen! I remember a line I read in a Swindoll book many years ago: No one ever erected a statue in honor of a critic.

  3. Anonymous says:

    good stuff,
    as ministers especially, we need to control our emotions and respond in Christ-like ways.
    thanks
    brian

  4. Monalea says:

    Hey I’m glad you posted these guide lines. I’m going to print this off and memorize it and share it with other.

    I know a person that rarely has anything good to say about anything or anyone. If you want to know the pitfalls in a project, just ask this person or wait a few minutes and they will tell you. I try not too, but when I see this person coming my way, I sneak off the other direction. I have tried the kindness thing and finally realize you can’t out-kind a rattlesnake, but you can avoid it.

    Monalea

    James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

  5. AncientWanderer says:

    Criticism!
    So why does it bother me if I already know all this?

  6. TREY MORGAN says:

    We’re human AW. I’m in the same boat as you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love your list, and I love you, too, Trey, for your loving spirit and ability to express your thoughts so well. Keep up the good work! Jeanne M.

  8. The Preacher's Household: says:

    We have some that just say things mean but I don’t think they are really criticizing. It took a while to figure out that it is just personality and their problem. You really do have to have several positives to offset the negatives.
    Kathy

  9. MESSIANIC GENTILE says:

    And when your critics are right…?

    For surely not all criticism or critics are wrong or bad or even negative… (Though surely plenty is) and so the criticism might just be valuable.

    -See the prophets.

  10. TREY MORGAN says:

    MG … Point #5

  11. Anonymous says:

    MG – Point #4 also applies. Trey said he was more than willing to admit when he is wrong, etc. If we are true to Christ, we should all be willing to do the same. We are either growing or regressing, and as far me, I would rather be growing.

    Jeanne M.

  12. MESSIANIC GENTILE says:

    Oh… pt 4 & 5….

    Okay.

    Thanks.

  13. MESSIANIC GENTILE says:

    BTW, Trey,

    I have been reading Proverbs lately too. At least the first 9.

    Wisdom is a Woman. The Israelite father arranges the marriage of his kids. And in those first chaps. He is arranging the marriage of his son(s) to Woman Wisdom and warning about the foolish woman. The imagery is not explicitly sexual, but marriage-like for sure. Knowledge is sexual in the Bible. “Adam knew Eve” etc. And the foolish woman does not “keep her FEET at home”!

    God created the world thru and with Wisdom. And, according to Frethiem, God makes himself dependent on her as she is on him and she has influence on him. I think he is on to something.

    But then I think TRUTH is RELATIVE and we must RELATE with TRUTH in order to KNOW TRUTH. As we often like to say: it is about our RELATIONSHIPS.

    Great book: Proverbs. I thought it was cool that you are reading it too. Wonder if you will post some thoughts…

    Jesus is Lord!

  14. TREY MORGAN says:

    MG … I’m loving Proverbs. I love the realness of it in everyday life.

    Great idea on posting thoughts.

  15. TheStraitGate says:

    Trey

    You hit the nail on the head (which sounds like a terrible pun but is not intended to be) with your last word in point two – Christlike.

    I may have commented on this before, but if only we Christians could remember we are supposed to act like Christ…..

    David

  16. MESSIANIC GENTILE says:

    Does that include calling the Pharisees snakes and hypocrites, David?

    Sounds heavily critical and at least borderline condemning to me…

    Jesus is Lord!

  17. Ron says:

    Hey, I had someone to send an anonymous letter to my church the other day. They said some really horrible things about my wife,kids, and a ministry leader. I care deeply for all who they implicated. Although none of this is true;it hurt really bad to know that someone would go out of thier way to be so malicious. Our church is growing, we are reaching our community for Christ for the first time in its 60 year history. We have people accepting Christ at our prayer meeting. Now, this has come. Pray for me, that I do not allow my a root of bitterness to spring up in me. I want to do as the Jewish carpenter did, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Thank you for your time.

  18. TREY MORGAN says:

    Ron … I will pray. I don’t know if you’ll see this or not, but I will pray. AND if I can make a suggestion … take the letter and throw it in the trash. Don’t give it another thought. If they don’t have the nerve to sign their names then you shouldn’t take it seriously. They are cowards. Blessings.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
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