Have you ever been offended by feedback that someone “most graciously” offered you at church?
It could be about anything… a ministry you are in charge of or involved in, the songs you pick or play, the way you approach and speak to people/ carry yourself, or even something as frivolous as the way you dress. We are a society of critics. We have game shows where we critique people. We rate performances, music, movies, athletes, etc… We all have feedback, and most of us want to share it, but none of us like to receive it!
Sometimes I wonder if we as Christians have, and offer, too much feedback on minor issues while being spineless and quick to zip our lips and stand back on major “counter-Christian” ones.
I also have come to wonder… why are we so sensitive? We treat most feedback as a personal attack against us, and sometimes we can be offended even when no offense was intended. Let’s be honest… most critiques we receive aren’t attacking us on a personal level, and most of it isn’t meant as an attack at all, but actually it is usually meant to try to aid or assist us in what we do.
I myself, being a creative person, have found that we artists can be overly sensitive. Artists can be the most stubborn people of all. I will be the first to admit that I personally have to watch myself because often times I want things my own way and become angry when I am challenged to do things a different way.
I wholeheartedly believe that because art is such a personal thing, it is difficult to separate ourselves from our work. We pour all that we are into our work, and that leaves us feeling vulnerable. Our “art” or “creation” is constantly being evaluated, and not everyone will like it! A Picasso painting doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone!
So… in a culture full of evaluation and critics how do we handle feedback from within the church? Do we let it break us down and ruin our spirit? Do we become defensive and turn people away? Do we try to please everyone and run ourselves into the ground in the impossible process? Let’s talk about handling feedback below.
- Greet feedback as your friend.
Proverbs 27:5-6 says,
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Proverbs 27:17 says,
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
As individuals sometimes we begin to resent feedback or criticism and treat it as an enemy rather than a friend that is “sharpening” us. We must have a teachable spirit and be open to critique… be open to “sharpening.”
It is important for us to realize that feedback can be God’s agent to bring growth in your life- spiritual growth as well as artistic growth.
It sounds easy on paper or on your screen… but it is much more difficult when you are receiving it.
- Respond with grace.
James 1:19-21 says,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
This passage is important for us as Believers when responding to criticism or feedback.
We must “be quick to listen” instead of being quick to justify ourselves.
We must “be slow to speak” instead of being quick to defend ourselves.
Most importantly, we must “be slow to become angry. Let’s commit ourselves to cooling down and prayerfully thinking about feedback and our response before giving it.. Proverbs 15:1-2 says,
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
When constructive criticism is given it is important for us to make an effort to respond with appreciation. If you are doing what the Lord is calling you to do then pursue that and let Him handle it.
- Learn how to fail graciously.
No one succeeds all the time. We are going to make mistakes and we need to own up to them. If we have a teachable spirit then we commit ourselves to learning all we can from our mistakes.
By accepting feedback and criticism we are not only accepting our “mess-ups” and shortcomings… but we are also moving towards making those things better.
Don’t take yourself SO seriously. Be joyful and laugh at your mess-ups… everyone else probably is anyways!
A couple of thoughts in closing:
Forgive those who hurt you with harsh feedback or criticism. Harboring bitterness and resentment can do more damage to you than negative words ever did.
You can’t control what people are going to say… but you can control how you’re going to respond.