Responding To Criticism

Dr. Charles Lowery is a much sought-after motivational speaker. For years, though, he was a pastor, and some of his observations on the ministry were absolutely hilarious. Consider this one on criticism:

“I always try to be positive with my critics. One came up to me last week and I said, ‘If I had two more just like you, I’d be a happy man.’ He didn’t know what to say. He replied, ‘Pastor, what are you talking about? I’m always criticizing you. Why would you be happy if you had two more like me?’ I answered, ‘Because I have twenty more like you. If I only had three, I would be a happy man!'”

If you want to avoid getting criticized I’d suggest that you become a hermit who doesn’t attempt to get anything done. Even then you’ll get criticized for being lazy! The point is that getting criticized is inevitable in this world. Sometimes it seems as if people are lined up around the block waiting to tell me all the things I’ve done wrong. I’ve often used a Bill Murray line from the classic comedy Ghostbusters. At one point in the storyline, after Murray and the other Ghostbusters have become famous, he tries to have a conversation with Sigourney Weaver, the girl of his dreams. After she cuts him down with a sarcastic remark, he says, “I don’t have to take this abuse from you. I’ve got hundreds of people waiting to abuse me.” Great comeback.

Let me offer a simple two-fold suggestion for how to handle the criticism that will inevitably come your way. First, honestly evaluate it to see if there is even a kernel of truth in it. The fact is, sometimes we have to admit that we deserve what we are getting. Then, second, make any changes that you need to make because of the criticism. Understand now that many times no changes will be warranted. Never beat yourself up over criticism that isn’t factual or valid. But other times changes will be in order. And it’s during those times that you’ll have to ask yourself, “Am I a big enough person to accept this criticism rightly and make the appropriate changes to bring good out of it?”

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