Last week I wrote an article about how we criticise and the motives behind our criticism. This article continues where I left off – how do we handle criticism?
I am most definitely someone who doesn’t handle tough love very well. The teachers and people over the past who have used this tactic on me have soon realised it was the wrong move, as they are then left with a blubbering wreck who is sobbing hysterically and apologising for being a failure! Okay, so I might be using the extreme version, but this is the truth. For a long time I have really struggled with separating what I do with who I am. So when a teacher criticised my piece of work and said I had failed, I felt like I had failed as a person. I found it very hard not to take it very personally. I have by no means completely dealt with this, but God is day by day is healing me of this and teaching me to daily find my identity in who I am in Christ. That is the fact that I am a daughter of God, beloved, saved and redeemed. Walking firmly and confidently in my identity as a child of God has helped me deal with constructive criticism better. Although I still have to fight the initial defence mechanism.
I find it helps taking a bit of time to listen to the words rather than reacting, to pray about it and to seek if what has been said is true, and if so how I can use it to develop and improve. I need to remember that I don’t find my identity in these words. And if I am secure in whom I am in Christ, then what has been said shouldn’t need to affect me so emotionally. This is work in progress.
The other important thing I have learnt is to be open to constructive criticism. We should as children of God want to continually learn and develop. We need to be improving the gifts God has given us, developing our learning and understanding of God, and developing as men and women of God. A big part of this is being open to growing, and allowing God to gently convict us when we have made mistakes. He gently and lovingly puts our feet back on the right path, to allow people to help us improve our skills and to step forward in our journeys.
One of my favourite cooking programmes is Master Chef Australia. During the challenges, judges walk around whilst contestants are cooking and give them advice, especially if they see disaster ahead. The contestants who usually fail in the challenges are the ones who refuse to listen to the judges’ advice and be willing to change. The contestants who end up achieving great things are the ones that listen, allow themselves to moulded and adapt, develop and learn from their mistakes and from the expertise of those around them. We need to be open to that loving and gentle voice of conviction the voice of the one who wants the best for us. God wants us to succeed, develop and grow. Sometimes (I mean quite regularly) that means realising we are wrong and being willing to change.
Today I want to encourage you when you find yourself in a situation where you are criticising something or someone, to just take a moment and to question if you have the right motive behind this attitude. Let’s be encouragers and mentors building up and inspiring those around us and allowing God to develop us, and lead us on.