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Critical Dynamics of Criticism

3. Consider Timing and Prayer. 

When someone criticizes you, ask them to let you meditate about it and pray about it and get back to them. When someone criticizes you face-to-face, ask them if you can have 24 hours to think and pray about it. When we take 24 hours to pray and seek counsel about a criticism, our response will be so much more mature.

Don’t respond too quickly; give yourself some time. In the long term, you become more well known and more judged for your reactions to things rather than for your actions. Truth has a way of eventually vindicating itself. Sometimes you have to wait longer than a day or two.

4. Consider Yourself.

Critics are often God’s gifts to guard us from self-satisfied and self-destructive tendencies. Critics almost always exaggerate their case—that’s human nature. It is true that critics are often not entirely right. But critics are usually, at least, partially right in their criticisms of us.

5. Consider the Need to Move On.

If 50% of the criticism is correct, I need to receive it and move on. Move on. Don’t let criticism fester. Move on. Your goal in every criticism is to deal with it constructively. Never become anger. Never become self-defensive. Deal with it constructively. “Turn the other check,” Jesus said. We have to learn to handle criticism politely.

Sometimes, if your conscience is clear on a particular issue, you might want to respond by saying, “I appreciate your coming to me. I appreciate your concern. I do want to let you know that there is a straightforward explanation. I do love you very much, and I appreciate your love for me, but I do believe that on this issue you are missing the point. Let me explain…”

But, if your critic comes to you not objectively at all—but he’s angry and emotional—you are much better receiving it for the moment and not seeking to explain yourself. We can easily over explain. As soon as we do, critics will think, “He’s really over justifying himself, again.” Refuse to sink to the level of harsh critics. It’s not for you to repay. If you fight God’s battles, God will fight your battles. Romans 10:12, “‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Don’t get sidetracked into fruitless controversy.

6. Consider Scripture. 

Consider wonderful texts that come your way to encourage you. When you find a special text that encourages you, tape it to your computer for months and read it again and again and again. Romans 8:28 tells us that criticism can work together for my good. Isaiah 54:17 is also helpful: “‘No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, but My servant’s righteousness is of Me,’ says the Lord.” Look for promises that will show you that God will uphold His servants in the midst of strife and controversy.

7. Consider Christ.

Look to Jesus in the face of mounting criticism. Peter said, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth;’ who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, he did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously'” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

If Christ who was perfect and altogether innocent was spat upon and mocked and rejected and crucified, what can we—who are imperfect—expect. Remember, we are followers of Jesus. We are sufferers together with him. You can’t be a Christian and yet not suffer. Remind yourself, “No matter how badly anyone has ever treated me, they have not treated me nearly as badly as I have treated Christ; and, if Christ has forgiven me—when he was totally innocent and didn’t deserve any of my bad treatment—why shouldn’t I forgive my brothers and sisters (even when they say false things about me) because I am usually partially guilty, to begin with, but also because Christ has forgiven me of so much more.”

Whenever someone criticizes you, get down on your knees and thank God that they don’t know half how bad you really are.

8. Consider Biblical Saints.

Isn’t it fascinating how Nehemiah handles criticism? He has Sanballat and Tobias criticizing him. Some of their criticisms were valid. Nehemiah’s workers were not skilled; many were not very committed; some sections of the wall were not very strong; some sections could not be rebuilt. Some of their criticism had some truth in it.

Nehemiah responded by committing his cause to God in prayer. That’s the first thing that he did. He didn’t turn to them and defend himself. He didn’t explain. He simply said, “Hear, O, our God…” He turned to God and not to man. And then he committed his cause and source of the vision to God. Then, he set up a guard. He revised his plan according to the new circumstances without abandoning his vision. Pray, remember and revise.

9. Consider Love.

Love the one who criticizes you, for Christ’s sake. Try to get to know the person better. You can’t love the one you don’t know. When something has been dealt with, don’t ever bring it up again. Spurgeon said, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death warrant every time you repeat the Lord’s Prayer…Forgive and forget; you bury a dead dog, you don’t leave its dead tail sticking up from the ground.”

Pray for your critic, and pray with your critic. When you pray for your critic, pray very carefully. Go the extra mile in compassion and understanding. There are times when you need to feel pity for your critic. Sometimes the criticism is so bad that you need to feel pity for your critic. Peter says, “Lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1).

10. Consider Long-Term Vision.

No president in American history was so well respected and so despised as is true of Abraham Lincoln. Thousands opposed his views on war and slavery, as well as his attempts to keep the country united. A friend once told him, “You’re surrounded by barking dogs.” Lincoln responded, “Barking dogs just bark and bark at the moon as long as it is clearly visible in the sky.” His friend responded, “What do you mean? What’s the rest of the story?” Lincoln said, “There is no rest of the story. The moon just keeps on shining.”

Lincoln just went on when he had barking critics. He knew he was right, he had long-tern vision, he was clear in his conscience, so he just went on. When we know we are in the right, in accord with God’s mind, God’s will and God’s vision we need to press on in longterm commitment to our work. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up.