From the Pastors Desk
The Subtle Opposition of CriticismNovember 8, 2019 Pastor Byron Hand
Last week we looked at one way that Satan subtly opposes us: he causes us to look backwards instead of looking forward. Our enemy is so subtle! He takes the healthy practice of reminiscing, and turns it into our main occupation (even an obsession). There is a subtle danger in nostalgia! It keeps us focused on the glory days, and not the days ahead.
This week we will look at another subtle way in which our enemy opposes: Criticism.
Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something. Another way to understand criticism is that it is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life. The bottom line is that we all need criticism. A trainer correcting our form at the gym; a landscaper re-planting a tree which was misplaced on the front lawn; a builder re-doing our attempt at drywalling.
Criticism is part of everyday existence – judging; evaluating; correcting. It is a reality and we all need it. There are two things we need to remember when thinking about criticism: (The Criticism we make or the one we receive) 1. Rarely does criticism feel good when it happens; 2. The sting of criticism is often exacerbated by the tone, attitude and the spirit of the one giving it. It is this kind of criticism that often takes the wind out of your sails and pierces your heart.
A number of years ago Thom Rainer wrote an excellent article entitled “Five types of Critics in the Church.” Let’s highlight the five types:
- The Negligent Critic – This person makes offhanded comments and thinks little about the impact of his/her words. This person is often unaware of the fact that their criticism hurts. Often their criticism isn’t even based on fact. They need to be kindly corrected.
- The Hurt Critic – It has been said that “hurting people hurt people.” These are critics who lash out of their own pain often without thinking. Rainer encourages us not to take their criticism personally, and to respond with love.
- The Sinful Critic – These are critics who refuse to face their own rebellious ways or the truth of the situation. They attempt to elicit fear and guilt in those criticized. These critics need to be confronted.
- The Self-Serving Critic – Rainier writes: “This critic is having a thinly-disguised temper tantrum because he is not getting his way on some issue in the church … These critics are, in many ways, the most challenging.”
- The Constructive Critic – This person really wants the best for you and the church. Most have prayed and waited before they speak or write to you. The best response to them is to listen, discern, and if necessary change.
There are two things we need to consider as we face criticism:
- Recognize that criticism is inevitable. Deal with it prayerfully and courageously.
- Make every attempt to discern the type of critic you are dealing with. In many cases, the criticisms will benefit your life and ministry. In other cases, you may have the opportunity to deal with the critic in a redemptive way.
As I was searching for the word “critic” or “criticism” I found no uses of the word in the ESV. However, the Living Bible had numerous usages: I leave you with several references out of The Living Bible (LB) from Proverbs and one helpful reference from the ESV out of Ecclesiastes.
See You Sunday,
Ecclesiastes 5:2 (ESV) “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”
Proverbs 13:18 (LB)If you refuse criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you are on the road to fame.
Proverbs 15:31–32 (LB)If you profit from constructive criticism, you will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame. But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and your own best interests.
Proverbs 23:12 (LB)Don’t refuse to accept criticism; get all the help you can.
Proverbs 25:12 (LB)It is a badge of honor to accept valid criticism.
Proverbs 29:1 (LB)The man who is often reproved but refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken and never have another chance.