Have you ever been the object of criticism?
It will happen to all of us. Sometimes the criticism is justified. Other times it’s unjustified, and dished out by someone who has a critical spirit. It’s sad, but occasionally, people are looking for a reason to tear you down.
If someone is currently disparaging you unjustly, you’re in good company. Jesus was the object of unjust criticism and called it like it is in Matthew 11:18–19: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Jesus was talking about the general population and was saying, no matter what he and John did, people were going to find something wrong.
If you are the one being criticized, do some soul searching and ask, “Is it true? Do I need to adjust my behavior?” If the critical words are not accurate, then understand the root of the problem. Ask: “Am I being criticized because of jealousy? Does this person dislike me? Is their nature to criticize?”
I used to let criticism get me down. Leaders are often targets. When I was the women’s ministry leader at my old church, sometimes critical words would get back to me, and I would beat myself up for days. Now when I am criticized, I have learned to pray for favor with that individual and pray that the person tossing out judgment will see me through God’s eyes, not through their own human perspective. I ask to unconditionally love the individual doing the criticizing, but I also realize that maybe God is opening my eyes to how they really feel about me. It may be time to count them as a friend “for a season” and set a healthy boundary.
If you are the one who is critical, remember that you are tearing down someone who has been created in the image of God. James said, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9).
We also need to remember that if we are trying to initiate some kind of behavioral change in another person, criticism won’t get us anywhere. In an April, 2014 Psychology Today article titled “What’s Wrong with Criticism” by Steven Stosny, Ph.D., he said, “Critical people seem oblivious to this key point about human nature: The valued self cooperates; the devalued self resists. If you want behavior change from a partner, child, relative, or friend, first show value for the person. If you want resistance, criticize.”
In any form, criticism is never good. We can’t control critical people, but we can control ourselves. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to breathe words of life through you to others and to open your eyes to who they are in God’s eyes. It will give you a different perspective that will never take you down the path of criticism.
Categories: Devotion of the Week