I think one of the toughest things to do as a human being is take criticism well. Pride is very much a part of our nature, it’s a mask that we think can hide us from hurt, and receiving criticism requires us to take off the mask.
But take off the mask we must. That’s why popular mantras that call us to ignore the critics are not, in my opinion, entirely helpful. No, I’m not saying you should let the opinions of Internet trolls and everyone else you know rule your life. What I am saying is if you don’t at least consider the views of your critics you’re missing out on an opportunity to learn. And if you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
Proverbs 29:1 says this:
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.
I recently read through the book of Proverbs, and that is one of the only times the sudden destruction-type language comes into play. Isn’t that radically different from the popular wisdom of the world?
This is so important to me because I generally don’t take criticism well. I work hard and have generally always been good at what I put my mind to. Things that are difficult for others have been, by God’s grace, been made easy for me, so when someone comes at me with a critique of my work I tend to get defensive instead of receptive.
It’s also important to me because I don’t want to be suddenly destroyed. I don’t think Proverbs 29 is necessarily saying that God is going to execute some sort of divine judgment on you if you ignore a comment about how you shouldn’t wear navy blue workout pants with a black t-shirt (my wife may or may not have criticised me about this once).
No, I think it just means that people who don’t take criticism well are proud, and pride comes before the fall. If I ignore financial criticism, my finances will suffer. If I ignore my wife’s criticism, our relationship will suffer. If ignore criticism in the church, my ministry will suffer. If I ignore spiritual criticism, my relationship with Jesus will suffer.
How do you react when you’re criticised? What areas of your life do you get most defensive about? Approach criticism with humility, because if you do it’ll sharpen you instead of harm you!