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5 Ways to Handle Criticism Like a Champ

I don’t love to be criticized or critiqued. I must admit, I don’t love “input.”

I think this goes back to my Intro to Design class in college.  One day Dr. Grinchwold (named changed) walked past my desk, looked disdainfully at my project, a 3-dimensional paper fly (which was brilliant, by the way), and muttered something.  “Excuse me, what did you say?” I asked.  To which he replied for the whole class to hear, “I said, ‘Do you have a match?’  Because you should burn that thing.”  I was stunned, mortified, and humiliated.  I wanted to say, “If I had a match, I’d light your pants on fire,” but I didn’t.

Or maybe it goes back to when I was a teenager and my Dad criticized my taste in music – “Sounds like somebody pounding on a bunch of pots and pans!”  Tactful.  He actually came to like a few of the Beatles’ songs years later.  But his comments didn’t cause me to listen to more of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

My wife is very encouraging but graciously confronts me about my sin at times. (There’s a lot more she could confront me about but doesn’t).  After all these years, I still don’t love to be corrected.  My initial instinct when she asks, “Can we talk about something?” is to want to say, “Didn’t we just talk about something 12 years ago when the kids were little?”  But I always don my teachable face and say, “Sure, honey” while thinking on the inside, “Now what?  Can’t you just let me watch ‘My Strange Paranormal Wedding Storage Unit’ in peace?”

And after 31 years as a pastor, though I should be used to feedback, I still squirm when told my opening preaching illustration was lame or my counsel didn’t part the clouds and cause angels to sing.  I want to be like the pastor in The Andy Griffith Show and stand outside my church every Sunday, shaking people’s hands as they leave, and they say, “Wonderful message, Pastor!”  And I reply, “Why thank you, Bee.  You take care of Andy and Opie this week, y’hear?”

David actually prayed to God for people to correct him.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.  (Psalm 141:5)

I don’t remember the last time I asked God to send people to rebuke me.  But if David prayed for it, it must be good.

So how should we receive criticism?  Here are 5 suggestions:

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Mark Altrogge is the original triple threat: singer, songwriter, pastor. He has been the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. When not pastoring or writing songs, Mark can be found consuming vast quantities of coffee. Unfortunately, Mark is not particularly gifted in the area of athletics.