Good morning Friend.
It feels good to be back to writing after about a month of abstinence. During that period, we had a very insightful series titled “Life Questions” and it was quite awesome. By the last post, many folks didn’t want it to end, so I guess we’ll have another edition of #LQ Series before the end of the year by the Grace of God.
Today by God’s Grace, we will be addressing a very important topic in our Christian walk; CRITICISM. We all have had to deal with criticism one way or the other in our lives and the effect can be quite damaging, especially if it is not well handled. The damage may be as a result of the way the criticism is presented or it could also be the way it is perceived or received. Some criticism are very sound and healthy and must not be taken otherwise, else, Praise will ruin such a person who can’t handle such healthy criticism. This post however is about how to constructively handle destructive criticism.
Truth is, nobody enjoys being criticised! I have seen how harsh and unrestrained criticism has weakened the very fibre of conviction and belief that used to be strong in an individual. We all wish we would never have to deal with criticism all our lives, but that’s not going to happen… It just wouldn’t! Either Praise or Criticism can serve as a sufficient ingredient to sink any rising life. We must NEVER allow them get into us, else we risk sinking. It’s just like a ship, as long the water doesn’t get inside of it… It will keep sailing, but the moment the water penetrates… It begins to sink. You were meant to sail in spite of the contrary winds and water waves as long as you keep your vision and never allow the waves beat into your ship. Eventually, even the winds and the storms will aid your speed to your destination if they are handled with mastery and Grace.
Now since criticism is something we would all have to deal with, how do we handle it in such a way that it wouldn’t have very damaging effect on us, rather a positive effect? Good question. We find in scriptures, an example of a man who was doing something huge and got criticised, mocked and attacked for it, but rather than let those words sink in, he handled them with mastery and eventually those criticism fueled his resolve never to give up. We will be learning from this man. His name is NEHEMIAH.
Nehemiah 4:1-9 (KJV) But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
2 And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? note
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.
4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: note
5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.
7 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, note
8 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. note
9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
There are 3 outstanding lessons he teaches us about how to handle destructive criticism constructively ;
1. Only people doing something of worth and significance get viciously criticised and attacked: What Nehemiah was doing was so significant and prophetic. Jesus could not touch down on earth until the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the same way the Church must be built and furnished before His second coming. Nehemiah wasn’t just some ambitious butler who thought it was a nice idea to have his name carved in the newly built walls of Jerusalem, He was a man on a mission for God. If you will do something worthwhile and significant in life, get ready for some major verbal attacks. The more consequential your success will be to the kingdom of darkness, the more the devil will make you a top priority in his strategic meetings. So you can as well encourage yourself with that as you grab a shield in defense and protection of your heart against offence and depression.
2. You don’t play the game on their terms: Criticism as a game has some rules that the “criticiser” wants you to play by. That rule is this; get distracted and start trading criticisms with me. So he says your nose is flat, then you say his head is big, and he says you’re too short and then you say he is too fat… then you forget the job and start focusing your attention on a distraction. Your jibes may be true of him, but his aim is not to beat you at being a better critique, his goal is to distract you. Be wise! Nehemiah didn’t pay “Sanba and Toba” (please permit my use of words… I actually find their names very amusing) any attention, He simply focused on his work… Nehemiah 4:4,6. They didn’t reply them, they simply prayed and directed them to the person they were really mocking; GOD, and then continued their work. If you’re on a race track running for a medal and someone shouts from the stands “your tennis shoes are so filthy, I can perceive the stench from here… you haggard looking dirty runner”, if you stop and reassure your critique of how clean a person you are… you may well win the argument, but you will sure lose the race. The biggest revenge for destructive criticism is success at what you were criticised for. That’s why God enjoys to prepare tables in the presence of enemies… what fun is there in eating God’s treat among friends alone? When the Apostles were attacked and told not to preach again, they didn’t insult or rail on the authorities, they simply directed their threats back to God and asked for renewed strength to do more of the exact thing they were beaten for. Acts 4:29-32
3. You had better be led by the Spirit into what you’re doing: If you are criticised over something you know you do not have the backing of heaven over, better be discouraged so you can change course. But if you have been chosen and led of God to do something and someone mocks, attacks, and unduly criticises you for it… simply direct the criticism to the intended recipient; GOD. We have no business feeling embarrassed for God. If we are judged and insulted for God’s sake, God says we should rejoice and get excited. Peter got so excited that he had the opportunity to even be beaten for Jesus’ sake. He didn’t take it personal. Today, what we have is that people take criticism too personal and allow those words dig a hole of bitterness and offense in their heart. That can be very dangerous and costly. If you didn’t send yourself, why take any confrontation so personal? When the criticism comes and it hurts, acknowledge that it does and lay it at Jesus’ feet. However you can only do that if it was Jesus who sent you and you’re sure of it. God only defends who He sends!
Criticism abounds and no one is immune to its reality, but we can build strong spiritual structures to handle them constructively such that what was intended to hinder, will eventually foster growth and success.
I hope you have gleaned some valuable insights and wisdom from this piece. Do well to share. Have a great week ahead. God bless you!