A former president of Yale said: "If this man is elected we shall surely see our wives and daughters reduced to prostitutes, sobriety dishonored, and decency in our land will become an outcast!"
Who is this being said of? Barack Obama? John McCain?
No, try Thomas Jefferson! Can you believe that?
The day after Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, a reporter wrote: "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterance of a man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as President of the United States."
Sometimes criticism can indeed be so unwarranted. I’ve been told that with the customer comment cards at Disney they supposedly keep all the ones that are positive and the negative ones they don’t even read and throw away. Their mentality is, what they are doing right they want to focus on and keep doing all the more, not focus on the negative things people have to say.
I believe we have to resolutely focus on what God has called us to and set ourselves forward to do it come what may. As we do, it will not always be easy. Someone once said, “the greater the light, the more the bugs.” As for me I choose to focus. Mike Murdock says the reason most people fail is broken focus. Philippians 3:12-14 says: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Did you ever notice how a critic is one who points out how imperfectly other people do what the critic does not do at all? Mark Twain once said, “One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where they can’t stand perpendicular themselves.” It’s amazing to me how many people criticize others whose own lives are a mess. What do you do? Keep focus.
There are a few ways to handle criticism when it comes your way especially for following what God’s Word tells you to do or what you know He has spoken to you .
1) Expect criticism.
2) Forget it.
3) Let it go.
If you expect to do anything significant in this life you will have a lot of people nipping at your heels or yapping at you. It’s just a fact. Winston Churchill once said, “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.”
As most of you know I’m a huge Amy Grant fan. Have been since I was 13 and I have every album she’s ever made and know all the songs by heart. One of her older songs that many might not know is, “Got to let it go.” I have it on my MP3 player and often walk to it at the end of the day, especially if I’ve endured anybody yapping at me that day. As I’m walking along I listen to her sing,
“and I’ve got to let it go…
holdin’ on just brings me worry…
got to let it go…
come and take it from me hurry…
got to let it go, oh I’ve got to let it go…”
and then I do.
By the time I get home and am done walking I've usually let it all go and resolved to keep going with whatever God has spoken to my heart.
I’ll never forget when I started out pastoring 20 years ago and the first Sunday we stopped singing from books in the pews and put words to songs on an overhead projector, so we would be free to clap our hands, raise them, and worship the Lord freely. The closing prayer had barely been over and the amen said, and a woman came up to me at the end of service and nearly lost her temper declaring, “I DON’T LIKE THESE OFF THE WALL SONGS! TAKE ‘EM DOWN!” She was so upset. She actually took a spiritual affront to the fact that we were using an overhead and saw this as an issue of right and wrong.
I went home that Sunday and just said to myself, “got to let it go…oh I’ve got to let it go…” and just quietly put the songs back up on the projector the next week and went on despite her coming to church every week looking more like she had been baptized in prune juice than in water. Nowadays this complaint would seen as Neanderthal and quite honestly completely ridiculous to 99% of the church population. But at the time a few people agreed with her and it seemed like a bigger deal. It was hard knowing those few, but staunch critics were out there every Sunday. I just quietly kept going about my job and did what the Lord was leading me to do. So did many thousands of other music ministers. The rest is history.
Realize when we criticize someone, it says absolutely nothing about that person. It just says something about our own need to be critical. Malcolm X once said, “if you’ve got no critics, you’ve got no success!”