How should we face the upsetting comments of other people? What is the right response to criticism?
First, when criticism arises, maintain a quiet spirit. Do not become defensive or loud, and restrain any outburst, though that may feel right at the moment. Some people will use the excuse, “I just have a short fuse. That’s how God made me.” This is a poor argument; we can’t blame the Lord when we fail to control our own bad temper. Such responses are unhelpful, unhealthy, and unacceptable.
Second, we should not attempt to defend ourselves immediately. Pride, not genuine honesty and reflection, usually motivates this response. Whenever possible, it’s wise to allow time for the initial shock and irritation to pass before offering any defenses or theories.
Third—and this is a tough one—we must ask the Holy Spirit to show us if the problem is our fault. Are the accusations true? Is it possible that a loving friend was led by God to reveal something unpleasant about us? We do not like to think that we are ever wrong; however, we know that as sinful men and women, we cannot be right all of the time. For this reason, there is always a chance that a conflict in our lives may actually be our fault. When people care enough to confront us in this way, we should be gracious about receiving and considering their perspective.
The Lord often speaks to us through other people. If He is trying to communicate something to you through a brother or sister in Christ, challenge yourself to be open to His message—even if it hurts.
*Originally published on In Touch Ministries, Inc.