“If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.” ~Proverbs 15:32
Do you hate being criticized? How do you feel when someone offers you critique? Do you graciously accept it? Or do you complain, feel inadequate, and want to give up?
What if you’re the one who delivers the harsh criticism? How does your harsh critique make people feel?
Criticism mainly happens when one is being corrected for their wrong. Critique is healthy; it is there to strengthen souls, but there are times when it can weaken people. This happens when harsh people abuse their critiquing power.
So, whether you feel as though you need to learn to accept criticism with more humility (whether harsh or constructive), or if you feel like you need more grace and patience when you deliver critique, this post is for you! You can apply this at work, home, school, and in relationships or when you’re just correcting a brother or sister in Christ.
Godly Ways to Give Criticism:
Deliver it with love and patience and not with any abuse (cursing or name-calling). Don’t just tell the person that they are no good or call them “stupid” for their mistakes and shortcomings. Anything you speak into a person, whether good or bad, will manifest in their behavior and actions. If you critique them with a good, honest, loving approach, you will likely see a more confident individual. But if you constantly show no faith in the other person, they will probably lack confidence in themselves and be slow to improve.
So, remember that you’re there to help the other person. Before you give any kind of critique, ask yourself if it is coming from a place of love, protection, and a desire to see them do well in life.
Show appreciation. Point out the good even while critiquing. This is hard to do, but not impossible. If you only point out the negative and leave out the positive, the person on the receiving end will probably feel inadequate. They may think, “Seriously? I’m giving my absolute best and I’m still coming up short?” Try to remember to tell the other person how good they’re doing when offering critique. This helps build their self-esteem.
Also, when critiquing, look for the positive and address the positive along with the criticism. Tell them what they did well but correct them on their wrong. This shows people that you have confidence in their abilities.
Be honest, but not cruel. And don’t sugarcoat either. God wants us to lovingly “warn” those who are wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:14). He wants us to pray for those who are wrong, so their spirit can be restored. When we do warn, we must be honest and tell them that they are in danger of judgement. We must not be reckless, and we must not sugarcoat our warnings. Sugarcoating is actually just as dangerous as being “reckless” if not even more dangerous. Sugarcoating partially keeps the truth from others; they don’t get the full version of what they need to hear.
Make sure the critique is constructive and not destructive. Your words should be to build up others and not destroy them (unless, of course, you’re casting out demons!). Look at how Jesus addressed those who were astray. He pointed out their sin, even though it offended them, and told them what they needed to do to get better and live better. He was patient, loving, and truthful at all times.
Godly Ways to Accept Criticism (whether constructive or harsh)
Joyfully and quietly accept it. Don’t cut off the other person, complain, or give any excuses for yourself. Doing so only makes you look prideful and that’s something God looks down on. You must realize that you are not perfect and part of being human is making mistakes and growing from them. No one is “too perfect” or “too good” to be criticized. Even Jesus, the most perfect Person to walk this planet was not exempt from criticism; He actually took the most critique! So, take the criticism quietly without arguing and just say, “Thank you.” This teaches great humility and will strengthen you to receive critique over time.
Be thankful for the critique because many times, God speaks through critique. What exactly are you being critiqued on? Is it a personality flaw such as laziness? Are you being criticized for something that isn’t pleasing to God’s eye? Look at this as a way to make you better.
Ask yourself, is this critique actually helpful or more harmful, petty, or nitpicky? Is the critique something you really need? Take it to God and ask Him to show you what you need to improve on whether it pertains to your character, work performance, or relationships. He will reveal and confirm some things that you need to improve on.
Apply it! Criticism is there to help us and make us better. Even harsh criticism can be helpful. It may be painful at the moment, but at the end of it all, you’d rather something been said if nothing at all! How can something or someone be improved if nothing negative is said? Take that “negative” and turn it into a positive.
- Proverbs 15:32—”He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.”
- 2 Timothy 3:16—”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
- Galatians 6:1—”Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
- Ephesians 4:29—”Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”