Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I get criticized today.” None of us pursues criticism, but criticism has a way of finding each of us. We each love positive feedback that lifts us up and encourages us. However, along with positive feedback, there is a place for criticism in our lives.
As a pastor, I get my share of uplifting feedback, and I’m grateful when it happens. It’s nice to know you are loved, cared for and that something you have said or written has touched someone’s life in a positive way. Nevertheless, criticism finds it way to my doorstep also. I don’t have a criticism shield that protects me from hard words, but I do have a way of navigating strong and sometime hash words.
1. Fast answers mostly make it worse
When I first hear or receive criticism, I tend to get defensive. I can feel hurt and anger start to gain a foothold on my heart. Therefore, I don’t answer the criticism fast. I take time to hear it again, read it again, and think through it. I want to first find any truth in the criticism that I can grow from. You can’t find the truth in criticism fast. You must find it slow.
2. I write what my flesh would like to say
I have fun with this one. I defuse my anger and hurt by GOING OFF in writing. I write strong in your face stuff. I respond like I’m in a war. I keep writing until I begin to laugh with just how silly my words of defense are. Once I’m done with writing, I delete it or throw it away.
3. I try and give the other person grace and pray
Often we only see criticism as all about us. However, that is just not the case. The other person might be condemning me because they are just hurt and needed to deflect their angry and pain toward another person. Therefore, I read the criticism again and look for pain that might be in their life. Then I pray for them. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.
4. I respond until its time not to respond anymore
If I respond I ask them question of clarification. I ask them question that help me to see their side. I can’t fully turn a situation around unless I really have a handle on what they are truly trying to say. If they answer back in a calm and mature manner, then I keep the conversation going. If they take it to a more ugly level…I stop responding and move on with my life.