I was at church this week for an appt. that never was, but God had a different appt. for me – a young assoc. pastor (really appreciate God’s hand on this young man) ask me about how to deal with criticism (based on my experience).
It is not humanly natural for us to like criticism, it is something we learn and grow into as we mature spiritually – it is a fight between our sinful nature and our new mind of Christ.
My exposure started as a columnist 15 years ago, for a news website with international reach amongst Africans (particularly Nigerians), the publisher (who is now a good friend) ask that I write regularly because my writings attract readers, which I did gladly. Most readers wrote to applaud me, but two didn’t – they criticized positively, my wife and a pastor in philly (he was also a doctor), there were tons of negative critics.
Initially I hated all the criticism (positive and negative), my friend the publisher of the website – would NOT publish any negative write-up about me (he has my back – haha). My change to accepting criticism (positive) was not from the two people but from within me.
In prayer and as I matured, I realized:
1. I must Know who I am with God – Positionally (never define myself by worldly achievements).
2. That as a human I have blind spots (because of sinful nature)
3. Learn to separate positive vs. negative criticism. Read all criticism and decide which is negative, which is positive. For instance, this pastor in Philly, kept telling me to reduce my writings and re-read to catch bad grammar, and my wife said the same thing, re-read and catch your bad grammar. Negative criticism attack you personally not discuss issue, projecting own circumstance.
4. Reply critics only when the argument is NOT theologically or doctrinally accurate. Reply if you think the person is open to discussion. Never reply personal insults and quit an argument once your point is made.
5. Never take criticism personal – each person is sharing what they believe (some more passionately than others) – which may or may not be right.
6. Know the Truth you believe and constantly review them as you study, NOT based on criticism but based on reading/meditation (on the word) backed with verses or clear principle application.
7. I realize that once I decided I was going to be VOCAL on issues that bring debate, nudging at human sinful nature (Faith, Politics and Marriage) then, criticism (and other isolation means) comes with the territory. Time also make criticism bearable, but your heart through time better be “godly”.
8. Finally, TRUST GOD and listen very attentively (don’t be a hero for your ego). Have the Fear of God, not fear of men.
The above have helped me greatly, I believe it could help others as well. I pray the Holy Spirit give you Godly Wisdom