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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”