We’ve all received criticism in our lives, and it stings.
Despite the sting, criticism can be helpful — an example would be a needed rebuke from a person with authority to give it, like a parent or teacher. Other times, a friend might gently bring up an issue in search of resolution.
However, not all criticism is like that. Some of it is unconstructive, unhelpful, and unkind … and even untrue. We can’t expect a world full of broken people to give perfectly fair and gentle thoughts all the time.
Still, after people say cruel things to us, we’re often left reeling, unsure how to cope. Today I’m presenting three suggestions for how to deal with unhelpful criticism as beautifully redeemed daughters of Christ.
Know your worth in Christ.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” ~Romans 8:1
We have worth in the love and purification of Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives us our goodness, He is the one who showers us in His redemption, and He is the one who determines our true merit.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” ~John 10:10
As long as we are living in Christ, we don’t need to be overly concerned with what other people think of us. Go to God when you’re being mistreated. Not only does He have the perfect salve to heal your soul, but He can give you clarity on the things you may have been hearing.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Sometimes it’s best to just remain quiet, nod and smile, and move on. However, if you feel threatened or the criticism continues, seek the advice of friends. It’s important to report any cases of bullying or harassment, whether happening at school, work, or even within your family.
Consider what they’ve said from a distance.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” ~Ephesians 5:15-17
Control your reactions, Roses! Do not react to their criticism immediately if at all. The wisest way to go about these things is to approach it from a safe distance.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Consider this: perhaps you can glean wisdom from even the harshest criticism! Perhaps you were told something about yourself that came across as very brusque and cruel. Is there a grain of truth in it, however?
Sometimes there simply isn’t, and you can’t change yourself every time someone wants you to, or you’d be in a constant state of flux. However, perhaps God is using this person to show you something about yourself or your life.
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by Hell.” ~James 3:17
If there was nothing of substance in their words, you should be able to see that from hindsight. If you’re unsure, ask your parents, pastor, or other person of authority for their thoughts.
Generally the people who know and love you will be able to offer clearer insight on the issue. And God can definitely offer the best insight of all—so turn to Him in prayer and in Scripture reading!
Consider how Christ handled criticism.
“I do not receive honor from men.” ~John 5:41
Though we must be humble, it’s also important to remember that Christ did not quietly stand by when unfairly criticised.
Jesus experienced more criticism during His lifetime than most of us ever will, to the point that He was crucified based solely on wicked peoples’ untrue accusations and opinions of Him.
We can look to Him not only for an example of how to be strong in such situations, but as a source of strength in our own trials.
“When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’” ~John 6:61
Jesus would boldly speak the truth of the situation, but He would also be wise in what He did said. There were times where He chose not to speak at all — and there are times when He simply walked away.
However, He never changed who He was or altered His beliefs or actions to conform to the desires of the Pharisees and other people of His time. He remained firm, gracious, and kind.
Surrender Unhelpful Criticism to God
Roses, God loves you. He loves you even though He’s seen your innermost thoughts, your greatest failures, and your saddest moments.
Why? Because He sees all that — but then He also sees the amazing woman He created before the foundation of the world. God knows your best you, and He also knows what is true about you — and what is false.
When you face unhelpful criticism, you can turn to Him. He will guide you. Be willing to evaluate criticism in the light of His word. If it is not a rebuke which will help you become more like Christ, let it fall.
Your worth is in God — not in other people. Our job is to be a light in this world, but we cannot let ourselves be dragged down by the darkness surrounding us.
Do your best where you are right now and keep living in Him!
Kellyn Roth lives in the dry basin of North-Eastern Oregon on a small ranch with her family, cat, fish, and three beloved border collies. Kell joined the Wilting Rose Project to reach out to young Christian women who need encouragement to keep their head in the fight with Christ centric in their life. She also posts on her blog, publishes Christian historical women’s fiction and romance, and teaches writing through Brett Harris and Josiah DeGraaf’s Young Writer Lessons.