Making Friends with Complaints and Criticism
“That comment hit me where it hurts!” Most people understand that criticism comes with the territory of just living life. However, some are surprised to discover they receive more criticism than positive reinforcement. Unfortunately, people are prone to air their complaints rather than their compliments.
When we receive criticism, it can be incredibly difficult not to become defensive. Our natural reaction is to defend ourselves or our opinions. It takes a mature person to face what is perceived as a personal attack on one’s intelligence, opinions or performance without reacting.
We can control our emotions when criticized by listening carefully to the complaint, then asking ourselves the following three questions:
- Is it true, untrue or partially true?
- Was it meant in jest, sincerity, honesty or anger?
- Was the person informed or misinformed?
Once we have honestly answered these questions, we have to make some personal decisions. Realizing God uses people in our lives, we have to either change our behavior based on their observations or maturely move past the criticism. Obviously, the goal is to be at peace with one another, as per Romans 12:18.
Although no one likes to be criticized, there are some benefits. If you have dealt with much criticism in your life or ministry, you probably are questioning that last statement. But let me share four potential benefits of criticism in our lives.
- Criticism causes us to evaluate effectiveness. – We never want to become complacent in our lives or ministries. As much as we may want to avoid criticism, sometimes it is the initiator of evaluation.
- Criticism drives us to our knees! – We are hurt and need unconditional love which comes only from God. Criticism has a way of reminding us WHO we can trust. Criticism can be a tool to shift our dependency from ourselves back to the Lord.
- Criticism helps keep us humble. – It is easy for us to become self-sufficient when everything seems to be going our way. When someone criticizes us, we are reminded of our humanity. We are not perfect and even if the criticism is unfounded, we are reminded we all have issues.
- Criticism reminds us we are alive: “I must be alive and doing something if someone cares enough to notice me.”
Remember, all of us have a choice about our attitude when we face problems, crisis or criticism. Someone once said, if you want to avoid criticism, follow this simple formula:
- Do Nothing
- Say Nothing
- Be Nothing
Sounds boring to me. What about you?