Five Ways to Receive Criticism

Receiving a negative critique is not pleasant. But you can survive the experience and actually benefit from it if you assume a motivation of love. The goal is not to defend yourself or create divisions. Rather, we as Christians are to "make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).

Here are a few self-disciplines that will help you hear criticism constructively:

1. Pray and be patient. Ask the Lord to guide you in responding to the criticism.

2. Let the critic finish. Don’t interrupt. Interruptions choke off the message and deny you the whole story. They can also cause the critic to push all the more strongly.

3. Give careful consideration to the evidence. You may discover that the evidence for the criticism is valid. If so, then your critic has done you a great favor.

4. Determine the real problem. Does the expressed criticism indicate the basic problem, or is it only a surface issue that points to a more important issue?

5. Let the criticism be a source of learning.

Criticism doesn't have to hurt. Instead, it can help you grow.

—From Criticism: Giving It and Taking It, an IVP® booklet by John W. Alexander and Steve A. Hayner, both former presidents of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

(printed in Student Leadership Journal, vol 12:2)

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