Critiques should be welcomed in life. You need people helping your get better in your marriage, business, parenting, and life. Critiques come from people who aren’t trying to slam, ruin, pick you apart, or hold one thing over your head. They are friends. A critic, however, is someone who is gunning for you. They may come in the disguise of “friend” but they are really negative and faultfinding. They are more interested in being religious and legalistic than redemptive. A critic uses your information against you and holds it over your head. A critic takes one sentence you said and forms an opinion of your entire life from it. A critique evaluates the whole of your words and lifestyle.
How do you know if someone is being critical or offering a critique? First, how well do you know this person? I have a rule: I don’t let others consistently speak into my life (good or bad) unless I know they love God, love the church, and love me (in that order). If they just love me, they will try and please me. Really, all three of these can’t be separated if you plan to truly help someone. Never let those who know you the least define you the most. Secondly, are they talking to you face to face? Critics love talking behind your back – usually to other critics. I tend to approach those I’ve heard talking behind my back and ask for a meeting to discuss specifics. Sometimes, it isn’t worth the fight if their tendency is to be argumentative and think they are always right. Proverbs 26:4 says not to argue with fools or you will become foolish as well. A critique comes face to face, usually over time spent talking about much more than one fault. If the person speaking against you doesn’t have the guts to live out the steps of confrontation found in Matthew 18:15-17 then consider them a coward and move on. It’s easy to send an email, text or Facebook message blasting you but it takes real character to sit and respectfully discuss a matter and walk away in the end friends. Also, anything said anonymously is to be dismissed as foolish, cowardly, immaturity. I don’t respond to anonymous emails and unsigned letters.
Thirdly, is what they are saying true? There is something to weighing out the validity of their point, even if it comes across as an attack. Let the Lord search your heart. If you need to repent, forgive, or make some changes do it regardless of how it was brought to your attention. God can (and did) use a donkey (speaking politically correct) to bring change to your life. But it only happened one time in Scripture. Lastly, you can’t make everyone happy – it’s the fastest way to failure. Just make sure you are acting holy. Live a life above reproach but be sure not everyone will like you. Most of the time critics argue over opinion and method, not principle. Their opinion is the only one that is right and how dare you to question it. Don’t let insecurity of people pleasing drive you. Be a God pleaser! You will be criticized no matter what you do in life, especially if you lead. The point is to outlast your critics and listen to wise critiques. Pray for the critics, love them, serve them, but don’t bow down to them or back down from being and doing what God has called you to. Like Nehemiah, don’t leave the wall to fight the enemy.