Nobody enjoys criticism, constructive or otherwise. However, we all need it from time to time. I try to keep three biblical principles in mind whenever I receive criticism.
Don’t Defend Yourself
James tells us to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. Genuinely listen when people confront you, thank them, and ask for some time to think about what they said. Resist your natural urges towards argument and anger. Regardless of how the criticism is brought, take as long as you need to hear. You may need days or weeks before you are ready to speak. You should need even longer to get angry.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Peter tells us to be so blameless that criticisms sound absurd. The very fact that someone brings criticism often indicates a sanctification problem somewhere. Even the kindest and most honest criticisms will be wrong in one particular detail or another. Unless the detail is absolutely crucial, don’t worry about setting the record straight. It doesn’t even matter whether the criticism correctly diagnoses your problem. If the criticism bothers you, it probably points to a problem of some sort. Find the true problem, confess it, and fix it.
Don’t Lie to Yourself
John warns us not to lie about our own sinfulness. Whenever criticism arises, your first reaction will be to present yourself in a more positive light. This often requires you to misrepresent minor details, claim nonexistent motives, and even simply make things up. These blatant lies won’t fool others, but you probably will succeed in deceiving yourself. Our hearts are proud and wicked. We desperately long to believe our own lies.
Don’t reject criticism. Embrace it until there is nothing left to criticize.