I mean that in the way you think I mean it, but I also mean that it can suck the life out you if you let it.
If you let it.
I've been reminded of this raising up my boys and trying to help them realize that another kid's thoughtless comment doesn't need to define their thoughts about themselves. Then again, how many of us adults struggle with that very issue? A wise man once said, "If your critics control you, you're defeated."
So here are a handful of thoughts on how to respond to the critics in your life:
- Decide in the moment who will ultimately be the loudest voice in your life.
For me, this is God Himself. There are so many promises to claim, but as Jesus Himself said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) This means that I spend time consider His promises to me, I remove the authority from the critic... because ultimately he/she only has as much as I give him/her.
- Respond... don't react.
Too often we let the critic determine the timetable, be it from their egging on or immature actions. Don't let their sense of urgency create one in you... rather, choose to respond at the right time.
"A man's wisdom gives him patience;it is to his glory to overlook an offense." (Prov. 19:11)
- Be open, having a positive spirit.
There is tremendous gain when you confess your obvious short-comings, so affirm any valid concerns that are brought up and share (with a positive spirit) your own sense of self. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Provers 15:1)
This doesn't mean you need to agree with the details of what is shared, but the spirit behind it. For example, "I don't know if we see eye to eye on everything you're saying, but I do think we see eye to eye on why you're bringing it up. Is this about your desire to see ________ succeed?"
- Take the initiative to reconcile.
There is no need to turn a situational rift into relational murder. Step up and into awkward moments so the "elephant in the room" that everyone is ignoring doesn't destroy you, then, and everyone around.
That awkward first conversation? Have it... and then move on to a slightly less awkward second conversation. And then an even less awkward third conversation, and so on.
Of course, there are times when a hard-hearted person had to be handed over to God for discipline. But it's in our nature to jump to that step without putting in the hard work of loving someone who has persecuted us. Isn't that what the Gospel is about? Isn't that what Jesus has modeled to us?
You may not be able to help being criticized.
What you can help is to not be controlled by it.