Every now and then I get a blunt reminder that not everyone is part of the Nathan Rouse fan club. For someone like me who has in the past looked for external validation, it can be hard to hear, read, and see that not everyone likes me. I sometimes wish I was that person that could care less what others thought and just keep moving forward, but for me it’s not that easy. Whether it’s people that just misunderstand you, wholeheartedly heartily disagree with your positions, or that just don’t like you; I’ve learned some principles that can help us receive criticism well.
1. Don’t get defensive: Set your pride and ego aside and genuinely hear what the person has to say. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Don’t always feel you have to respond right away. I sometimes take notes (if I can) so I can slow myself down and process and pray about what they’ve said later on.
2. Ask yourself this Question: “Is there ANY truth to what’s being shared?” I believe we can learn from anyone, even if the criticism is not shared in the most mature or kindest fashion. If God can use a donkey to correct a prophet, He can use the least likely person to help us.
3. Make adjustments: If out of the criticism you see something valuable that needs to be adjusted in yourself or leadership…DO IT! See processing criticism as panning for gold: sift out what’s helpful and throw away what’s not. Don’t allow your pride to keep you from learning and growing from others.
4. Move Forward: Many people when running into criticism allow it to paralyze their lives, plans and leadership. (I’ve been there!) If you feel what you’re doing is biblical, you’ve prayed, sought wise counsel, and feel this is the best course of action, then stand firm and move forward. Don’t water down your message or plans out of fear of upsetting others.
5. Value the Relationship: Our immediate reaction to someone being critical is to want to withdrawal from that person by either avoiding them or just not talking to them as much. While we can’t control their actions we can control ours. Make it a point to continue to reach out to them even if they might not receive it. The apostle Paul instructed us to “make every effort live at peace with everyone.” (Heb. 12:14)
Let’s rise above our pride and pan for gold in the creekbed of criticism.
What about you? What would you add to this list to help process criticism well? Share below.