You’ve heard it and probably said it:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”–Mom
Of criticism, a leader friend of mine suggests, “Just don’t take ’em on.” Wow, what colors are the flowers in his world?
Maybe I’m just a weak leader, but I’ve heard criticisms that have really hurt me…to to core; way past my bones.
Words that wake me at night.
Words that steal my appetite.
Words that bloody my nose.
Words that take my lunch money, trip me to the ground, kick me where the sun don’t shine, and disappear into the shadows before I even knew what hit me.
Words that break my heart.
Words that feed life-giving morsels to the insecurities slithering from out of the dark corners of my soul.
Are you a critical person?
If so, as one who is criticized professionally–and who is also capable of criticizing others quite proficiently–let’s consider the following.
(These thoughts are a compilation of my ideas and an article in the Discipleship Journal by Todd Catteau.)
Issues to consider before we criticize:
What are our motives for criticizing?
In Mark 14:3-9 we see the disciples being critical of Mary’s gift, but in John 12:4 we discover that Judas was leading the criticism. Why would we question Judas’ motives?
When we criticize we should ask ourselves the following questions:
a) Am I being critical because of personal preferences?
b) Am I being critical because of a time this person has hurt me in the past?
Will criticizing this person be worth it?
James 1:19; 3:1-12—Our tongues can cause a lot of trouble for us if we’re not careful.
Is my condemnation based on truth or personal preferences?
Romans 14:4,10,12-13—Paul warns the Roman Christians against judging other believers harshly in debatable matters.
Is this person really doing something wrong?
I Corinthians 12:4-6;18-21;24-25—We are different parts of the same body and we have different talents to use to get the same job done.
John Wesley was a colorful religious reformer, and he was also a mod dresser for his day and times. On one occasion he was preaching and he had on a bow tie with long streamers. There was a dear saint in the audience who didn’t like the bow tie and felt offended by it. She didn’t hear a word he said in his sermon. After the service she went up to him and said, “Brother Wesley, would you permit a word of criticism. Your bow tie is entirely too long, and it is an evidence of worldliness to me.” In response Wesley said, “Does anybody here have a pair of scissors?” Someone found a pair of scissors and gave them to him. He turned to the critical woman and said, “Why don’t you cut it off to suit yourself?” And she did. She snipped off a couple of inches on both ends of his tie. “That’s much better she said.” Then Wesley said, “Thank you, Ma’am. Now would you hand me that pair of scissors. Would you stick out your tongue? It’s entirely too long and an evidence of worldliness to me. I want to cut it down to size.”
Is my criticism dealing with a “sin” issue that could hurt the body of Christ?
I Corinthians 5:12,13—We have a right to be critical of someone in the body of Christ.
Is my criticism based on accurate information?
Rumors and assumptions are not the proper foundation on which to build a criticism.
Am I being Christ-like in my criticism?
Mt. 5:38-42—Jesus would “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile” when dealing with people.
I heard about a woman who went into a hardware store. She criticized every item on the shelf. Finally she came to some new brooms, and she said, “These brooms will never hold up. They are poorly designed. They are poorly constructed. The materials are shoddy, the handle is rough. I don’t know what possible purpose these brooms could serve.” And the clerk said, “Why don’t you take one and ride it home and see.”
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots. –Frank A. Clark
Now, let’s look at what we need to consider as we are being criticized.
Issues to consider as we are being criticized:
Don’t assume that you are wrong.
Even Jesus offended people, so we must be careful not to let an overly critical person control, or limit the way we serve Jesus.
Henry Ward Beecher, the famous New England minister, entered his pulpit one Sunday morning. Awaiting him was an unmarked envelope. Opening it, he found a single sheet of paper on which was written the single word, “FOOL.” After chuckling to himself, he held the paper up to the congregation and said, “I have known many an instance of a man writing letters and forgetting to sign his name. But this is the only instance I’ve ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write his letter.
Don’t assume that you are right.
In Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip, Linus asks Lucy, “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?” She answers, “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.” “What about your own faults?” asks Linus. Her response is, “I have a knack for overlooking them.”
Look to God’s Word for objective truth about whether, or not, you are right or wrong.
Often, in criticism from people it is difficult to find healing after the hurt.
“Expecting the precise scalpel of correction, we can get the blunt axe of criticism.” — Larry W. Osborne
II Timothy 3:16,17—God’s Word can equip us when we apply it to our lives.
Let me close with some random thoughts and a couple of quotes.
Don’t mind criticism. If it is untrue–disregard it; if it is unfair–don’t let it irritate you; if it is ignorant–smile; if it is justified–learn from it.
“The only way I know to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”–Aristotle
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where he doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt
©2014 Arron Chambers