What do you do when someone criticizes you?
I think we all struggle with criticism. It's tough, no matter how much we say it doesn't bother us.
We'll all be criticized. You will be criticized no matter what you do. We just need to learn how to deal with it.
Samuel Goldwyn, founder of MGM Studios, gave his people the following advice: "Don't pay any attention to the critics. Don't even ignore them!"
While there is a grain of truth in all criticism, and we can learn from some criticism, sometimes that can be good advice.
A good example of enduring criticism can be seen in David. You remember when the Philistine Goliath stood before the Israelite army, defying them day after day to defeat him in battle. No one believed he could be conquered; the Bible says that King Saul and the Israelites were "dismayed and shaken."
But David, a red-headed, ruddy-looking teenager got the idea that he, by God's power, could slay this giant.
When he began talking about it, his brother Eliab spoke with burning anger: "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." (1 Samuel 17:28)
David's brother epitomizes the nature of critics. Here's how:
He was obsessed with the trivial. David was about to win a mighty battle for the glory of God, but Eliab was more concerned with the sheep. Critics usually focus on the little picture, not the big picture.
He made it personal. Eliab called David "conceited and wicked." This reveals the difference between criticism and advice. An advisor helps you evaluate your options and rethink your strategy. A critic just attacks your motives and condemns your character. As the poet Ezra Pound said "You can spot a bad critic when he starts by the discussing the poet and not the poem."
He underestimated David's intentions. He said, "You came down here to watch the battle." No, David came to win the battle. He came to save the day. He was willing to do what Eliab and the rest of the army weren't: he was ready to risk his life for the opportunity to do something great for the glory of God. Eliab didn't get that.
So what was David's response? He simply said, "Now what have I done? Can't I even speak?"
And here's the part to notice...
"He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter." (1 Samuel 17:29-30)
David didn't get into a debate with his big brother about the purity of his motives or the extent of his vision. He didn't even bother to explain what type of arrangements he made for the sheep. He just turned away from his critical brother and talked to someone else.
The best response to criticism is to ignore it, to turn away from it, and to keep thinking about how you can do what God has called you to do.
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