Handling Criticism!

1 Peter 2:22-23 “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Handling criticism in a gracious way is a challenging issue for anyone. I don’t know one person who enjoys being criticised but the reality is all of us at one point or another will face criticism. The issue is what are we being criticised for and how do we handle criticism in an effective way?

In 1 Peter 2 we read that Jesus Christ was reviled and suffered for being who he was, the messiah! But Jesus did not revile in return or threaten when he suffered persecution for his claims, his teaching and his role as the Son of God. I find Jesus example challenging and sobering. Unfortunately, I have had to ask God for forgiveness many times for not following in Jesus footsteps.

I had some advice given to me once by a faithful man of God. Concerning criticism he said, “If you want influence, be prepared for criticism. Influence and criticism go hand in hand. The more influence you get, the more criticism you’ll receive.” I have definitely found this to be true personally and have observed it in action directed at influential men and women in the kingdom of God.

In Australia we suffer from “Tall Poppie Syndrome”. We just can’t handle anyone showing us up or excelling at something above the rest of the crowd and so like crabs in a bucket, we do all we can to pull down the person who is scaling up the bucket wall. When I was in America I noticed the difference in attitude towards people who excel compared to Australia. In America, success is celebrated. In Australia, success is criticised. Probably the only place where we celebrate success more than anything else is on the sporting field. The Church arena is definitely off limits in terms of growth, advancement and influence… Be prepared to cop it if you show any growth or fruit in Church world.

Criticism will come your way. The question is why is it coming your way? If we keep on doing dumb things morally or ortherwise, we most definitely will come under fire. But if you or I receive criticism for being a person of influence who makes a difference for the extension of God’s kingdom, we can handle that and must be OK with it.

Some people cannot handle Christian leaders or preachers having influence at all and so conclude, “They must be doing something wrong… unbiblical, ear-ticklers, moral compromisers, greedy…” What a cynical attitude! The reality is the gospel still works like it did 2000 years ago and when godly men and women preach it, live it and lead with it… it gets results and bears fruit… in lots of different ways… It influences people around us.

At the end of the day as John the Baptist said, “A man cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven.” God is the author of promotion and success in a person’s life (Ps 75). God gives and God takes away. My advice to you is to examine what the criticism is and weigh the criticiser in your life. If they have credibility in your life and are a trusted voice into your life, then examine the criticism more seriously but if they are shooting from the gallery and just want to unsettle you and air their opinion of you, then don’t let it bother you.

Take Jesus example and follow in his footsteps. It’s a hard thing to swallow at times but definitely the best way to go. Don’t revile when reviled and don’t threaten when persecuted because God has the final say. Entrust yourself to God who judges justly. Repent if you have sinned and remember, no one ever remembers a critic… but people do remember those who actually made the effort to get on the playing field and have a go. Don’t apologise for success or justify your influence. Just keep your head down, eyes straight ahead and keep doing what God has called you to do and let him work it out.

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

Lead the Change!

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