Former hockey goalie Jacques Plante once quipped, “How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”
Job didn’t face eighteen thousand booing people. Just a few so-called friends who made false accusations about his performance as a righteous man. Eliphaz started his attack on Job by criticizing his supposed lack of holiness. He accused Job of withholding water from the thirsty, keeping food from the hungry and turning away widows. Eliphaz claimed that Job’s problems stemmed from his wicked heart.
However, Eliphaz’s criticism was unfounded. God wouldn’t have made Job the poster child of righteousness if he’d really committed such horrible acts.
We all deal with criticism. But how we respond to it often determines how we feel about ourselves. Most of us respond in one of three ways: (1) We deny the accusation; (2) we become defensive and feel victimized; or (3) we look for what might be true about the criticism and weed out what’s not true.
Quite often critics just want to help solve problems—they’re not out to get the person they’re evaluating. If someone’s criticism carries a seed of truth, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and make corrections in that area of life. By doing this, we honor the critic’s judgment. And we show a willingness to take responsibility without feeling victimized.
However, some critics use words to degrade and control others. We don’t have to let them make our lives miserable. Job allowed Eliphaz to vent, but Job didn’t let the criticism define him. He was secure in the integrity of his actions, and that allowed him to deflect unfounded criticism.
Poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Criticism should not be querulous and wasting, all knife and root-puller, but guiding, instructive, inspiring.” False criticism never needs to define your self-worth. If someone throws an unjust accusation your way, don’t let it get under your skin. Look past it and move on. But if a critic’s words ring true, use them to make yourself a better person.
To Take Away
How do you handle criticism?
How does pride affect the way you respond to criticism?
Would you describe your words of criticism toward others as cutting and destructive or as guiding, instructive and inspiring?