Critics are a dime a dozen; some should be heard but many are self-appointed sounding brass. The Internet and anonymity empowers them. I’ve had my share of covert critics, and generally they are the same—intentionally deceptive and gifted at distortion.
One thing is consistent: They NEVER contact me to get the truth. Truth would nullify their game.
More than a decade ago, I determined some guidelines regarding “whose criticism I would hear.” Giving a hearing to a critic is like giving the key to your spirit.
You are not obligated to hear every random cynic. You are not under biblical mandate to account to those whom God has not appointed in your life.
Should you listen to some critics? Of course.
Should you ignore some critics? You MUST if you intend to EVER follow Jesus.
They key is deciding which ones to hear and which ones to ignore. Only YOU can decide who influences you. You distribute the keys to the critics. You can empower them or neutralize them.
So here my litmus test—these are the critics I will hear:
1. Listen to the critic who knows you.
The wounds you choose to receive should be from those closest to you. You have no obligation to the trolls who merely throw grenades from an indiscriminate distance.
Malicious critics are driven by internal character flaws which they project onto you. They presume you think as they do. They assume your motives, your behavior, your integrity is what theirs would be in your circumstances—and so they attack you by projecting their own ways onto you.
This is what the pharisees did to Jesus. The critic you should listen to is the one who knows your heart, not the one who projects their heart onto you.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
2. Listen to the critic who loves you.
Those who have a relationship with you, who have demonstrated Christ-like love toward you, have earned a voice.
Others have not. They have no right to their attempt to “pull you off the wall.”
Those who love you deserve a place on the platform of your heart, and their words will always flow from a heart of love with your best interest at heart.
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
3. Listen to the critic you know.
There is nothing you can reasonably do with anonymous criticism—which usually amounts to conjecture based upon a partial picture (i.e., someone who doesn’t know you doesn’t have the information they need to properly assess you from their distance). Anonymous criticism is purely cowardice. If someone isn’t courageous and comfortable enough with their opinion to approach you in person, their agenda is not noble. Anonymous attacks are valueless and in-actionable, and they are delivered by people who prefer controversy over resolution. Press the “MUTE” button and move on.
Matthew 18:15 “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
Proverbs 27:9 “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”