Monday, May 17, 2010

How Do You Respond to Critics?

If you write for publication, you will encounter criticism. Let’s put it this way, if you write your thoughts down, if you release them from your mind and record them in any medium, you will be criticized. You may hear, “That’s nice, but…” from a variety of friends. Your mother will likely say, “But that didn’t happen like that.” Your siblings are apt to blast you for painting them in an ill light. Then will come rejection letters from editors, and after some success, judgment from professional critics. (How bitter does one have to be to call himself a professional critic?)

How will you respond? Will you weep? Will you cower? Quit writing? Will you dispute? Will you defend? Retaliate with a sharp tongue (or sharpened pencil)?

A few years ago, I was blasted by some people close to me. I was called evil, accused of criminal behavior, judged, condemned, and threatened to be sued. There was much more, but I'll spare you the details. Needless to say, there was a major riff between us for a number of years.

During the time I was, well, assaulted, I held my tongue. I knew my innocence. I knew the slander did not apply to who I was. Sure, I was insulted, but I turned the other cheek. I let the critics talk (and they did a lot of that behind my back!). I remained who I was. While I may have been tempted, I did not strike out in anger or retaliation, because the Lord says, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay" (Deuteronomy 32:35).

I prayed to God often Psalm 119:154, "Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise." I claimed that! I also trusted in Psalm 37:5-6, which says, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn." I committed my way to Him, to carrying on in His work and doing what I felt honored Him. I depended on God to defend me while my offenders continued their abuse in my silence.

This incident taught me to take the negative with a grain of salt, to accept it but to maintain a degree of skepticism. As salt flavors food and makes it more palatable, assess words spoken against you but swallow only truth. And while it may be tempting to lash out at those who attack you, practice self-control. Remember the Lord will defend you. Trust in him and commit to honoring Him in all you do. In doing so, you will maintain a favorable reputation.


Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God said...

Jodi, I had a similar situation many years ago. A co-worker was poisoning my reputation with the director of the department where I worked. In spite of the advice of my co-workers, I resisted the temptation to retaliate.

About a year later, I was called into the director's office. He apologized for his harsh attitude to me and confessed that he had depended on the other person's opinion without looking for the facts.

That experience was tough, but I have never forgotten the lesson.

Thank you for reminding of it.

Be blessed,


Jodi Whisenhunt said...

You're welcome, Lynnda! Thank you for sharing your experience!

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