Growing Through Criticism – Part Two

To grow through criticism there are some things to note…

1> Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.

You need to learn how to interpret criticism. Is it positive criticism to build you up or negative to tear you down? Someone once said that constructive criticism is when I criticize you; destructive criticism is when you criticize me.

To determine the motive behind the confrontation, ask yourself some questions. 

A> In what spirit is it given? Look behind the words and determine the motives. Is the critic projecting a gentle attitude or a judgmental attitude? If your critic’s attitude is kind, you can rest assured that the criticism is meant to be constructive.

B> When is the criticism given? Times of confrontation must be shared privately, not within public view or hearing. If a person criticizes someone publicly, you can be sure his or her intentions are not the best. They are out to destroy and not to build.

C> Why is the criticism given? This question deals with the attitude of the critic. Is it for personal benefit and growth, or is it given from personal hurt? Sometimes the person who has experienced difficulties and problems will deal with others in a negative, critical way. 

2> Don’t take yourself too seriously.

If you can develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you will be much more relaxed when given or giving criticism. Face it, we all do some stupid and silly things. Blessed is he who can enjoy his blunders. We are approved by God; we don’t have to win the approval of others and look good in their eyes. We are not perfect people. Too many of us take ourselves too seriously and God not seriously enough.

3> Look beyond the criticism and see the critic.

When someone comes to me with news about another person, I am more interested in the person who said it than what was said. In fact, that’s one of my first questions: Who said it? Who told you that? When I find out who the perpetrator is, I know whether or not to listen. I will either straighten up and take it seriously or I will think to myself, “There they go again.”

Keep in mind certain considerations regarding your critic: First, is it someone whose character you respect? Adverse criticism from a wise man is more to be desired than the enthusiastic approval of a fool. Second, is this person frequently critical? Is criticism a pattern? If so, don’t place too much value in what they say. Possibly it’s a way to get attention. Criticism from a positive person, on the other hand, probably deserves your attention.

Finally, ask yourself this question: Does the critic sincerely want to help me? Remember that people who are busy rowing seldom have time to rock the boat.

4> Watch your own attitude towards the critic.

A negative attitude toward criticism can be more destructive than the criticism itself. Remember, a chip on the shoulder indicates wood higher up! Someone once said, “When you are being run out of town, get to the head of the line and look as though you are leading the parade.” In other words, maintain a positive attitude towards the critic. 

1 Peter 2:21-23 provides the right attitude toward criticism:

“This suffering is all part of the work God has given you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly.”

Could it be that a poor attitude reveals the fact that we have trusted in ourselves, rather than in God who knows the entire situation? If we are trusting Him and are obedient, we can expect some criticism. He often calls us to take an unpopular stand. He has also called us to love those who are critical of us.