Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Handling Criticism

I think I'll let the words of Craig Groeschel from Life Church say it all from his book Confessions of Pastor (p.157-176):

"The truth is, I stink at handling criticism - especially nitpicking, ignorance-based, selfishly motivated, unjustified criticism. I should be able to rise above it. I hate the way it always gets to me."

He continues, "This confession reveals one of my greatest character flaws: I care too much about what people think. I should be consumed with pleasing God, but I'm often consumed with the impossible - trying to please people. I know it's wrong, but it's the truth. When people take their shots at me, I find myself wanting to defend my actions, justify my behavior, or even criticize back."

How do you handle this?

Groeschel offers four insights:

1. Listen - consider the source, if it is someone who truly loves you and isn't driven by personal agenda, then the criticism can be helpful to you. Don't focus on what is being said, as much as you focus on who is saying it.

2. Answer - If you think a response can help the critic understand your position then answer, but watch your attitude. A couple of missing details of the story could help a critic that is honestly seeking clarification to understand better. Just remember to first consider who before what.

3. Dismiss - If you face someone who can't be pleased, dismiss their invalid criticism. What people criticize often reveal their deepest insecurities. Hurt people hurt people. It's especially helpful to understand who your critic is when he or she is emotionally unhealthy or wounded. The jab may be coming from an injured heart.

4. Endure - This is not the easiest, but endurance is critical if you want to succeed spectacularly at anything God sets before you. Whenever you veer off the beaten path, whenever you blaze a new trial, you'll be criticized. Sometimes it will be relentless. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Be obedient. For the joy set before you, endure your unavoidable opponents.

Last thoughts: "You are who God says you are, not who people say you are. Don't try to base your life on the unstable foundation of human opinions, but instead, build on the unshakable truth of God. The truth is your high ground. When you cling to the truth, you can rise above the criticism."

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