Facing CriticismSeptember 7, 2010
There I was, partway through a semester-long editing course, hiding near the back of the room. Red-faced. Sweaty-palmed. Palpitating heart. What a mess.
What was going on? Well, my hard news lead up on the big screen was being ripped to shreds by my fellow journalist majors as well as my professor with 30+ years field experience.
Combining all the facts and relevant information into the five-to-seven-word news lead is not for the faint of heart. You have to be informative, yet interesting. Engaging, yet not exaggerate. By the time I handed in my assignments, I had usually revised, rewritten, and revamped the thing 80 times. My heart was invested in these sentences and it broke my spirit to see them torn apart by my peers.
Survival in the writing world requires thick skin. Peer critique is one, quite effective, way to develop that. But man it sucks. There were times in university I went home crying, and others where I fought valiantly (yet in vain) for my word choices. Eventually I saw how peer review works to strengthen my work but it's still tough to hear.
We all face criticism to varying degrees. And when confronted, it's easy to resort to a fight or flight response. But there is a better way.
Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil” (NIV). Before knee-jerk reacting, tell God about your situation. Maybe he'll shed some perspective, or inspire a new course of action.
In his book Hand Me Another Brick, Chuck Swindoll teaches on facing criticism. Here's his advice: “Retrain your reflexes. Let your first response to criticism be an honest, cathartic, soul-cleansing season of prayer—take as long as you need” (73). His example throughout the book is Old Testament character Nehemiah and his daunting task of rebuilding Jerusalem's walls whilst facing insurmountable odds and incredible criticism. Through it all Nehemiah neither gave into discouragement nor lost focus. He faced his opponents with the strength of God behind him. Instead of fighting on his feet, Nehemiah did battle on his knees.
Do you want to learn how to deal proactively with obstacles and criticism? Learn from Nehemiah how to respond to tough situations.