9 Gifts That Come from Criticism

How do you handle criticism? Is it the thing you dread in relationships? Does it leave you feeling hurt, offended …not good enough?
When we pour our hearts, words, creativity or effort into something – whether at work, in ministry, in writing, or as a parent – it’s easy to get defensive when someone criticizes us. But what if we changed how we thought about it? What if criticism wasn’t an affront, but rather an opportunity?
Trust me, I know that’s not easy! Criticism and I have a long, sordid history. Raised the oldest in a single parent home, as a child I needed to feel okay… to feel confident and competent. (Okay, if I’m honest, that lasted well into adulthood… like up to this morning). In fact, over the weekend, 2 people I love and respect confronted me with criticism about something. Something that really mattered to me… and that I could have really messed up if I’d continued down that path. I didn’t see it at the time, so at first I was upset… hurt… offended, even. But shortly afterward, I saw how God used that to move me in to an even better direction – one that I’d have missed otherwise.
What possible opportunities – gifts, even – lie in criticism from others?
Criticism is an opportunity to:

  1. Discover more about yourself. How you respond gives you a clue about what matters to you, your level of belief in what you’re doing, and how confident you are as a person.
  2. Discover more about the other person. What they share and how they share their opinions gives clues to what the other person likes, wants and finds valuable.
  3. Delve into your strengths, instead of defend weaknesses. Our first instinct is to defend. But what if we allow criticism long enough to look it in the eye and come away with more wisdom and understanding about what we’re good at and what, truly, still needs work?
  4. Change behavior or shift direction toward something better. Many times in my life, criticism from a trusted source has saved me from doing something I’d regret. I’m grateful for those timely changes in direction, and for those who have the courage to be honest with me in life!
  5. Spend time looking, listening, and seeking the truth. With all we’re doing, it’s easy to miss truths that come from the kinds of pauses created by solid critique.
  6. Be humble… which ultimately leads to having honor in your life, work, and relationships.
  7. Build bridges. Responding graciously opens the door for deeper relationship with those we love and respect. After all, how far can you go with another if they’re never able to disagree with you?
  8. Know when a relationship is unhealthy. If the other person constantly criticizes, it may be time to set some healthy boundaries.
  9. Be grateful… that people notice what you’re doing, and care enough to see you do it well.

It’s easy to recoil when someone criticizes. Much harder to face it head-on and find the jewel that lies within. Will you make that hard choice next time someone confronts you with criticism? The choice to learn, grow, and press ever stronger into your strengths and calling as you receive their feedback? Friend, that attitude will open doors you never imagined possible!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Click here to leave a comment.
Wish you could handle criticism better so you could grow in your calling? I’d love to help you discover and develop your strengths so you can find those hidden gifts in criticism! Send an email or check out my coaching offerings for more info.
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  1. says

    It is so easy to anger when someone criticizes you. I need to learn to accept that criticism and learn from it instead of ignoring it and being angry.

  2. says

    You are a wise woman Laurie! It's good to listen to it and then ask the Lord if they are speaking on His behalf to you, or if they are just expressing their own feelings. You have to let go of the latter!!!

  3. says

    It is so easy to anger when someone criticizes you. I need to learn to accept that criticism and learn from it instead of ignoring it and being angry.