Something You Need to Know About Criticism


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Constructive or destructive you decide. Criticism is part of life. But before you criticize you may want to think about this...

“I think you should know what people are saying…”

That’s how most criticism is received in a pastor’s office.

I’m curious. What do you think the percentage is of people who criticize face to face. Not spouses or children. But extended family, coworkers, friends, other parents, etc.

The truth is most criticism happens in corners. Or… from a distance on social media.

There are many forms of criticism—we’re going to focus on two:

  • Constructive – Criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solutions. Constructive criticism values the relationship and wants to be helpful. It focuses on the behavior. 
  • Destructive – Criticism that is demeaning and hurtful. Destructive criticism doesn’t value the relationship and simply wants to prove the person wrong. It focuses on the person.

Distance criticism is always destructive. It is intended to make the critic right not to help or improve the person being criticized. Constructive criticism always happens in person without an audience.

What to do before you offer criticism.

  1. Ask yourself whether you want to be helpful or hurtful.
  2. Consider the person’s life experiences and current circumstances.
  3. Think about ways you can begin by being positive and encouraging.
  4. Make the decision to avoid words like “always and never.”
  5. Keep in mind you may not get the outcome you want. (Is it still worth it?)

Finally ask yourself:

Are you doing this for the other person or for yourself? If you are being critical because you need help… read this first.

And promise to never criticize someone to a third person. Never!

What to do when you offer criticism.

Be kind!

Constructive or destructive you decide. Criticism is part of life. But before you criticize you may want to think about this..

Quotes to think about:

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” ~Benjamin Franklin 

It’s hard to criticize someone if you are praying for them.” ~Elizabeth George

So let’s stop criticizing each other. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make other Christians have doubts or lose their faith. Romans 12:13

“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” ~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.” ~L. Lionel Kendrick

But if you criticize and attack each other, be careful that you don’t destroy each other. Galatians 5:15

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” ~John Wooden

“If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends – you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue.” ~Alice Miller

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a sharp word causes anger. Proverbs 15:1

Abraham Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” And Dale Carnegie added, “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

I’ve been on all sides of criticism. I’ve received helpful and hurtful. I’ve given constructive and destructive. I’ve shared criticism as gossip and yes, I’ve even been gossiped about.

By God’s grace I’ve been forgiven and with His help I’ve forgiven others. And because I typically write about things the Lord is working on in me…

With His help I will go through this list before I criticize in the future. Are you with me?

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  1. Hi Deb, this is beautiful. Criticism can only tear down if it is resentful *Destructive Criticism*.
    Thank you for the list of questions. I am with you on checking the list before I make a move.
    God Bless and thanks for the linkup

  2. Julie Lefebure says:

    Great post, Deb. So necessary to be reminded of these truths. I especially appreciated, “It’s hard to criticize someone when you’re praying for them.” Thanks for this. It’s one I plan to implement! Blessings to you!

  3. Mary Flaherty says:

    “Ask yourself whether you want to be helpful or hurtful.” Wow, that’s so good. That alone can stop us from being critical. How many of us actually stop and ask that question?! Great post, Deb.

  4. There’s a thread going around, God is on the move. Several blogs this week and an upcoming one of mine address the issue of words and their delivery, as well as the thoughts behind them. Criticism can be good. It can also be difficult to give and receive. Your post cheers us well to accept and deliver it well, Deb. I think this one will go on my kids’ mirror. 😉 Thanks, Deb.

  5. I love the way you cut to the chase on this post. Yes. Only two kinds of criticism! And criticism should be sandwiched by prayer. What wisdom and grace.

  6. Deb, this is such an important topic! I’m so prone to criticize, and I think many people are. Thanks for the reminder to keep criticism “out of the corners.” And I love your list of 5 questions. So helpful to stop and think before we offer commentary or criticism to someone.

  7. Hi Deb!
    So very very well said! Criticism seems to more often wound than serve because of the very factors you note in this post. We too often come from the position of comparing the person to ourselves, evidence of pride still clinging to us. We are definitely not the standard for others to use. This was excellent!
    Blessings on you today!

  8. Growing up extremely sensitive, careless criticism always cut me to the quick. As a result, though, I’ve always been cautious in considering the needs of others before I offer any advice/constructive criticism as even those things can hurt if we don’t reach out in love first.
    Blessings, Deb!

  9. Excellent information supported by scripture and wise persons. Such WELCOME insight in view of media’s loud and destructive harangue.

  10. Joanne Viola says:

    I loved this post as I also wrote on criticism yesterday. Your words added so much to all that was going through my own mind. From the first to last word, this post blessed me deeply!

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