To escape criticism—say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard
How good are you at handling criticism? I’m not talking about constructive comments that help you improve your skills or make wise decisions. I mean disapproving words or looks that make you want to melt like ice on a sweltering day and be absorbed into the ground.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at discerning when I should accept, or even request, “evaluations” and when I should ignore them. But I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with being a people pleaser most of my life. I like making people happy. Can you relate? Those desires can accompany a tendency to jump through hoops, struggle with saying no, and doing things we don’t want to do or even should.
For those of us who want to avoid criticism, just the look of disbelief on someone’s face when we share what we hope to accomplish may make us cringe inside and doubt ourselves. We may avoid embracing a God-given purpose in our lives because of fear that if we blow it, we’ll look like idiots. No one wants to hear, “I told you it wouldn’t work.”
So, we need to ask ourselves... are we willing to please others at the risk of displeasing or disappointing God?
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Galatians 1:10 NLT)
Sometimes we want or need to protect ourselves from being hurt. However, if we don’t find the courage to ignore unwarranted criticism, we could be hurting others by not giving them the opportunity to experience what we have to offer.
Throughout history—including biblical times—men and women have accomplished great things because they were willing to take risks and pursue what God called them to, even though they faced a great amount of criticism or ridicule. Look at Noah. When he starting building the ark, people thought he was crazy.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
Let’s be brave enough to shut out unhelpful criticism and not worry about what others think. Instead, let’s focus on what we know God has called us to do—and then with his help, do the best job we can.
Have there been situations when people’s comments about what you hope and plan to accomplish have offended you? How do you handle hurtful criticism?