7 Biblical and Practical Steps on How to Handle Criticism

By: Michele Thompson

Living Faith Now.

Criticism One Price of Leadership

Criticism is not only a part of leadership, it’s the price of leadership.  When you’re in a leadership position, it’s just part of the job description.  One of the things that new leaders are often unprepared for is the amount of criticism you will face. Your enthusiasm and optimism make you believe that everyone will be as committed and excited about your mission as you are. Unfortunately, it does not take long until your idealism collides with criticism. This can be a crucial moment for your character as a leader, as well as your trust factor and ultimately your credibility.

There is nothing like a small amount of criticism to stimulate your emotions, distort your self-esteem and get you off the track from chasing after what you are called you to do. It is therefore essential that you process and respond correctly whenever criticism comes your way.   Each of us have the capacity for leadership in our actions. If your actions don’t draw criticism in leadership, you are doing something wrong.  A good leader must be able to deal with criticism constructively.

Here are 7 biblical ways on how to handle criticism.

Admit when you’ve been wrong. I try to look on every reasonable criticism as a chance to review my position. While the Scripture might be inerrant, those of us who lead are not infallible.

Make constructive criticism part of the culture. You know it’s coming, so turn the constructive criticism into your organization’s culture. The bible tells us in Proverbs 15:31-33,

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. “

Every well-established organization needs to have a culture that is established, declared, understood and agreed upon. Contrary to popular opinion, this does not increase the amount of criticism.  Instead, it channels the existing criticism so that it can turn into something of value.

Assume criticism is logical. Matthew 18:15 tells us,

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

It is always best to believe that a person’s criticism is sincere. Given the basis from which the person’s thought stems, their criticism may be completely logical for them. The key is to genuinely understand their thought process and put yourself in their shoes.

To do so, you must know the persons theological foundation, their ego, life experiences, and overall deep beliefs.

Anticipate specific criticism. Every capable leader knows the “thought leaders” in the group and talks to them in advance, enlisting their support or listening to their criticism before a meeting. You cannot head into a meeting without knowing how the vote will go.

Limit the criticism you’ll accept. As a leader, you should learn how to limit the criticism you receive. Don’t allow the criticism of one prevent you from recognizing the strength of the thousand who are in agreement.  If you don’t, you may see a simple cold turn into a cancer.

Don’t turn criticism into a personal contest. Don’t fall for it.  Too many times we make criticism into a personal tug of war contest.  However, like a fire, if left alone without oxygen, the criticism will die of its own lack of meaning. It’s okay, look at the big picture.  Remember it is okay to lose a battle in order to win a war. Proverbs 15:1

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Don’t take revenge. It is so important to embody tolerance and avoid any retribution. Even if you are being crucified emotionally by your critics. Or even people you mentored, who you feel owe you thanks and not criticism, people who fight you bitterly and relentlessly. Find it in you heart to pray for them.  Even these simple but powerful words:  “Pray for those who are lying about me.”

1 Corinthians 10:10 tells us,

“Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

How Great Leaders Handle Criticism

As a leader, criticism is all about attitude. Treat criticism as fuel for the next time you’re tested by a piece of challenging feedback. If you criticize others to either make yourself feel good and make them look dumb, then a leader you are not.  One the other hand, if you can constructively criticize others and help them become better people and wiser at the same time, you are a true leader.   The bible is explicit in its instruction not only on how we speak on others but also on how we accept criticism.  You must want to help others if you are going to critique them in a positive way. So, make the choice today! Be positive! And if you are still wandering through life without a Savior, please consider Jesus today! You will become blameless in the eyes of God the moment you choose Jesus. May God bless you as you continue to live a life worthy of the calling!

The power of prayer is an amazing thing. Pray and move forward.