April 10: Don’t Let the Critics Win
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I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have any critics. It’s a really difficult part of life to deal with, and it’s a part of life that you can’t not deal with. You can’t just ignore it and think it’ll go away. It’s a part of life that can have a massive influence on us.
When a new book comes out, I’ll get a thousand emails from people saying they love the book. I’ll get one email from someone criticizing something on line four of page whatever. Which one will I go to bed thinking about? The critic.
It’s a tragic flaw. It’s a tragic flaw, and I probably have it more than most people. But the truth is that we have to be really careful about the voices we allow into our lives. We have to be really careful about the voice of criticism in our life.
You see, the voice of criticism can be a voice of coaching. But the voice of criticism can also be a voice of distraction and a voice of discouragement. And one thing that God does not want you to experience is discouragement. God doesn’t want you to get down. We get down because we think it’s our work. The truth is, whatever we’re trying to do is God’s work. And guess what? He can handle the critics.
But we let the critics, very often, take a very powerful place in our lives. OK, obviously I’m living a public life as an author and as a speaker, but you’ve got your critics. Might be your mom, might be your dad, might be your grandma, might be your mother-in-law, your sister-in-law, could be anybody. But you’ve got critics, and you cannot let their voice run rampant in your life.
You have to, I think at some point, learn to bring the criticisms to God and say, “Alright God, here they are. If there’s something here you want me to work on, give me some indication you want me to work on it. Otherwise, teach me to detach from this and not get discouraged by this.” Because when we get discouraged, we spend a lot of energy on something that has nothing to do with the mission.
I think it’s important to ask ourselves, “Is what this person is criticizing going to help the mission? Is it going to help me do the mission better?” Great if it is! Take it on. Doesn’t matter who says it, doesn’t matter how much you like them or don’t like them. If it can help you become a-better-version-of-yourself, great! Let’s take it on board. Let’s separate it from the personality of the person who said it, and let’s take it on board. Let’s become a-better-version-of-ourselves.
If it can’t help us do the mission better, if it won’t help us become a-better-version-of-ourselves, it’s incidental, and we’ve got to give it the gate. We’ve got to set it aside. We’ve got to press on with the mission.
Mission is king. We’re made for mission. God’s made you for mission. Anything that distracts you from the mission isn’t of God. We’ve got to learn to set it aside, stay focused, and never get discouraged by the critics. Everyone’s got critics.
Everyone’s got critics, and what the critics do is stop us from acting. They stop us from actually doing something, and they distract us to just be thinking about stuff. It’s a very, very subtle way . . . it’s resistance.
Resistance will use criticism because resistance hates action. Resistance hates when you actually do something. Resistance loves when you sit around moping about what the critics said about you. Resistance loves that.
What God wants you to do is to step out of that discouragement. He wants you to break through that discouragement. He wants you to go out and do something. He wants you to act. He wants you to press on and do whatever it is he’s calling you to do right now.
Theodore Roosevelt, as cited in Resisting Happiness
The critics will always be there, but we need to be careful not to allow their voices too much space in our hearts.
Reflect on a time when you allowed critics to have too much influence in your life, and how you would do it differently next time.
Jesus, help me persevere when I encounter critics. In those moments, help me to simply do the tiniest thing to move forward. I know you will do the rest.
Today’s personal reflection features Dynamic Catholic team member Steve Lawson. Steve is our director of communications, coming to us from Buffalo, New York. Steve loves gummy candy, has a secret desire to be Darth Vader, and yes, the blonde streak is natural.
How have you overcome critics in your life?
Let us know in the comments!