If you have been criticized lately I offer these thoughts.
1. Recognize the inevitability. Everyone gets criticized. I once heard someone criticize the preaching of Adrian Rogers. Really? Adrian Rogers? Adrian was a spectacular preacher- the right mix of passion and logic, interest and depth, with a voice like the mighty waters of Lake Huron. (I’ve never actually heard the voice of Lake Huron, but if I ever do, I expect it to sound like Adrian Rogers.) If someone criticized his preaching, I’m sure they will find ample opportunities to criticize mine. Ample. People in every profession and situation of life get criticized. It is part of being an imperfect person living among imperfect people.
2. Consider the source. If a mean person criticizes you, it might be because he is mean. If an angry person criticizes you, it might be because she is angry. My wife loves me. If she criticizes me,
painful though that might be, I know it comes from one who has my best interest at heart. I want to listen to everyone, but I trust the judgment of a godly person more than an ungodly; a fair person more than an unfair. And, a word about anonymous criticisms. I’ve heard people say they never read anonymous criticisms. There is some real merit to that. People can be unusually ugly under the mask of anonymity. (And their words can be ugly too!)
3. Learn and leave. Maybe the criticism has merit. Even mean people can be right sometimes. Learn what you need to learn. But don’t linger in the swamp of criticism. When the criticisms don’t have merit, you have to let go and move on. Pigs wallow in mud and they stink. Wallowing in criticism can leave one in need of some spiritual soap and water. I remind you to remember (I can be both redundant and repetitive) that you should do your best to please the Lord, not men. If you have done your best, move on from your critics and bask in the love of a Savior who cares about you despite your weaknesses. If you live for the praise of men, you will always be vulnerable to critics. If you live for the praise of the Lord, you will be able to move on despite your critics.
4. Choose to encourage. Your friends and family need your encouragement. They may occasionally also need your criticism. But they really need your encouragement. Be sure that you don’t fall into the pattern of a critical spirit. Encourage often and liberally. (This is one of the few areas in which I encourage liberalism.) After encouraging, repeat. If you have noticed a critical spirit in your own heart, repent before your merciful God. Criticisms, like smoking or scratching of the armpit, can be habit forming. But the good news is that encouraging can become a habit- or better said, a way of life. I hope every criticism you ever hear will remind you to encourage someone. Maybe you could encourage someone today. If Adrian Rogers was still alive, I think I would tell him how much I like his preaching!