How to handle criticism well

Treat each criticism as an opportunity to improve yourself

Proverbs 1:5 (NIV) let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance­­

Proverbs 19:20 (NIV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

We will not be able to take criticisms if we think too highly about ourselves. The Bible warns us against that.

(Rom 12:3 NIV)  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Evaluate the critic

Who is it that criticized you? Is it someone who is always critical about everything? If so, we may not need to take the criticism seriously because most probably the problem does not lie with us but with the critic who seem to find fault in everything.

In John 8, Jesus was confronted by a group of self-righteous, critical people who can find fault in others but not in themselves. While Jesus took the sin of the adulterer seriously, He showed no regard for the people who are finding fault in others.

Recognize that good people get criticized too

Even Jesus, who has no faults, was heavily criticized.

(Luke 7:34 NIV)  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”‘

(John 8:48 NIV)  The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”

While we need to pay attention to criticisms and learn from them, do not let our self worth be affected by other people’s criticism of us. Remember, as in the above cases, that criticisms can be completely misplaced. We should discern what are rubbish remarks against us and not allow them to adversely affect us.

Watch the crowd that criticizes you

As a general rule, if one or two person picks on you, it may be because they are especially picky people. But if many people raise the same issue with you, it may be time to sit up and take notice. It is less likely that everyone is so wrong about you. Listen to what the crowd has to say.

When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam made the terrible mistake of not taking the criticism of even the whole assembly of Israel. As a result, he lost the support of the people.

(1 Ki 12:3-4 NIV)  So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: {4} “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

(1 Ki 12:13-16 NIV)  The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, {14} he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” {15} So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. {16} When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!” So the Israelites went home.

Use the criticism as a motivation to prove your critics wrong

When David told King Saul that he wanted to kill the Philistine Goliath, he was met with criticism. Yet David did not let the criticisms dampen his motivation. He continued to push on and eventually proved his critics wrong.

(1 Sam 17:33-36 NIV)  Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” {34} But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, {35} I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. {36} Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

Do not let criticism deter you from your mission

Jesus was a fine example of Someone who was heavily criticized when carrying out His mission. Yet He did not let such criticisms deter Him. He was very clear what He had to do.

(Mat 9:11-13 NIV)  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” {12} On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. {13} But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Surround yourself with positive people

Just as criticisms have the tendency to weigh us down, positive comments can lift us up. That is why there is a need to surround ourselves with positive people.

Even Jesus got encouragement from His close disciples when they pledged their faith in Him.

(Mat 16:13-17 NIV)  When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” {14} They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” {15} “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” {16} Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” {17} Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.