We will all be criticized at one time or another. Sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly.
Sometimes others’ criticism of us is harsh and undeserved. Sometimes we may need it.
How do we respond to criticism? I haven’t always done well, and I’m still learning, but here are a few things I try to think of when others criticize me.
Be quick to hear (James 1:19).
This can be hard to do because our emotions rise up and our minds begin to think of ways to refute the other person.
To be quick to hear means we really do try to listen to and consider what the other person is saying. We don’t just write it off—even if it seems unjust or undeserved.
Be slow to speak (James 1:19).
Don’t interrupt or respond too quickly. Let them finish.
If you speak too quickly, you might speak rashly or in anger.
Be slow to become angry.
Why? Because James 1:19-20 says the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Anger won’t make someone do the right thing. Remember, God is slow to anger, patient and long-suffering with those who offend him. How much more should we be.
Don’t rail back.
“When (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Talk about being unjustly accused—Jesus was, yet continued to trust the Lord and did not revile in return.
Give a gentle response.
“A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
Be gracious even to those who offend you, even as God is gracious to us when we offend him.