CriticismMost of us hate to be criticized. I know I do. But receiving criticism is a part of life. I have discovered that I can choose from five different responses toward any criticism that I receive.

1 – Disregard the criticism, and never think of it again. Assume the person criticizing me has some personal issues and is not worth listening to anyway. During this process I tell myself all the reasons why the critic is a mean-spirited person, and I mentally defend myself.

2 – Dwell on what was said and rehash it over and over again. Wake up in the morning remembering what was said and feel condemned—perhaps sliding into a deep pit of condemnation.

3 – Criticize the person who criticized me and tell the person how misguided he is. After all, he has no business criticizing me because he has never walked in my shoes.

4 – Tell lots of people what I was told and make a case as to why I am right and they are so wrong. This transfers the offense I have taken to my friends. They will find it difficult to be released from their ill feelings regarding the person since they borrowed the offense from me. The scriptures teach us that we need to “look carefully lest we fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

5 – Examine the criticism to uncover at least 1-2 percent truth in it. Use the truth as an impetus for change and personal growth.

Each of the first four responses is unhealthy, and enables the enemy to try to destroy us. I’ve discovered number 5 is the wisest response to criticism. This response enables us to release the hurtful words to God so that they do not tear us down or condemn us. When I am unsure whether or not a criticism is valid, I share it with a few Christian friends whom I trust will speak the truth in love to me.

God is an amazing sculptor. He is chiseling off anything that does not look like Jesus within us. Sometimes it takes the chisel of criticism to force us to deal with areas in our lives that we prefer not to see. Since I have found criticism can be a helpful tool, I often ask people for constructive criticism. Yes, criticism still causes me to flinch, but knowing it can help me grow and allow God to develop the image of Christ within me—makes it worth it.