Absolutely nobody likes criticism. I don’t. You probably don’t.
Yet we do get criticized sometimes- and it’s never enjoyable.
The person who says, “Oh, it doesn’t bother me to be criticized,” is either over-insulated or disconnected. Or maybe just not telling the truth!
Criticism is necessary. A person whose life is without criticism quickly becomes out of touch and arrogant.
As Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
The thing about criticism is that it is someone’s opinion. It may or may not be a fact. It may just be the way another person views it.
Opinions are neither right nor wrong. They are the perspective from which someone views something. You may describe the criticism as harsh and mean, but then again, that is your opinion of the criticism. You too may be right or wrong.
Criticism is attracted to action. Change always attracts criticism- even improvements attract criticism. In the eye of the critic, the change is either not an improvement, or the change is uncomfortable.
If you plan to do something and that affects someone else, you may well be criticized. Why? You are changing things for them, and they might not like it. Your intentions may be good, but it’s still change, and that makes people uncomfortable.
How are you affected by criticism? This is important. You see, if you allow criticism to affect you negatively, you’ll start planning your life around what avoids criticism. That makes for an unhappy, narrow and impossible life! You have become a people pleaser.
Here is the life of a people-pleaser:
Avoid criticism at all costs!
Don’t do anything
Don’t say anything
Don’t initiate anything
Don’t plan anything
And definitely don’t let anyone know what you are thinking
Sadly, people-pleasing may not work. You’ll still be criticized. You’ll be criticized for not doing anything. For not saying anything, for not initiating anything, for not planning anything, and for not thinking.
A good life, a strong life, a productive life will require decisions and actions. You cannot ever play it safe enough to actually accomplish something and never get criticized.
Charles Stanley said it this way, “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.”
What good comes of criticism?
- First of all, there may be some truth in it. Listening from the heart to a critic encourages humility. What about if you have handled something inefficiently? What if you’re right, but went about it the wrong way? Maybe you could learn something here.
- If you find criticism seems to hurt you deeply, it may mean you have unresolved issues buried in your life. That could open a door of healing for you. “Why does it hurt so much” is a good question.
- Criticism gives you an opportunity to use self-control.Rather than reacting in anger or self-defense, listen to your critic, and think before you defend yourself. Ask for clarification before your anger moves you in another direction.
- In order to move forward, you may have to endure strong criticism. That can sometimes feel like a heavy bag. You may have to carry that bag even when you are in the right. This builds both endurance and character in you. To be able to go on, even when others disagree with you and point fingers at you, shows that you are not a victim. But don’t ignore it- determine if there is indeed something wrong with what you’re doing and make adjustments if necessary.
I finish this essay with the title, “Controlled by Critics.” It’s my observation that many people are actually controlled by critics. They are so concerned about what others think that they do very little. They are so afraid of “rocking the boat” that their decisions are reserved and cautious. They actually don’t do much of anything. Some are “burned” by past criticism and so they fear stepping forward. Some have messed up and reaped the criticism. So what? If you messed up, it’s okay. God forgives. You may have truly earned the criticism, but it’s not the end of your life.
When you allow other people’s opinions and negativity to control you, you have truly failed. When you are so stung by the critics that you begin to fear their voices, and stop moving on, you have truly failed.
I say, move on, look to God, get some healing, do the right thing, and learn from your past mistakes.
But definitely do NOT restrict your life to a “safe” position. You’ll never get anything done for good. Remember there will always be critical people. Learn what you can from their input into your decisions, let the negativity go, and move along with life and leadership.