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Practical Criticism - Giving it & Taking it
Ref:  John W. Alexander
 (Intervarsity booklet)

"Speaking the truth in love or plain criticising?"
"Do not judge (criticize & condemn) others, so that you may not be judged (criticized & condemned) yourselves.  For just as you judge others you will be judged, and in accordance with the measure you deal out to others it will be dealt out again to you.  Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother's eye, but do not become aware of & consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me get the tiny particle out of your eye, when there is the beam of timber in your own eye?"  You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, & then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother's eye."  - Jesus (Matt 7:1-5)

"Rather, let our lives lovingly (patiently, gently, kindly, respectfully, not arrogantly or rudely, not insisting on one's own way) express truth (God's truth & objective facts) in all things - speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.  Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way & in all things into Him, Who is the Head, even Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.  (Eph 4:15)
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good & beneficial for edification (spiritual growth of others) according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Eph 4:29)

Let us honor & please God in all we do.   Let us build (not tear) each other up in the Lord.

Ten Rules for Giving Constructive Negative Criticism  -  Never rush to give a condescending judgment !

  1. Pray first for wisdom & gentle spirit.

  2. Go directly in person, or at times in writing.  (Matt 18:15)

  3. Go privately . (Matt 18:15)

  4. Double check our own motives, our methods, & our attitude in giving the criticism.

  5. Lead with positive questions for explanation & clarification - don't jump to your own conclusion too fast.

  6. Be honest in communicating verbally & nonverbally what we honestly think & feel & why, with wisdom & in the right time  (Prov 15:23; Prov 25:11)

  7. Speak the truth in love (with patience, gentleness,  kindness, humility, etc.).  (Eph 4:15; 1 Cor 13:4-7)

  8. Be objective & specific with objective evidence rather than subjective opinions.

  9. Earn the right to be heard - first earn his/her respect by the record of your good deeds.

  10. Suggest alternatives.
    "Have you considered doing it this way or that way?  
    "Here is what I think you should start to do. Here is what I think you should stop doing."
    "Here is what I think you should continue doing, but I believe it would be better if you did it this way."

Ten Rules for Receiving Negative Criticism
It is strange that some of the outspoken givers of negative criticism have little capacity to receive what they give.
Secure people can take a lot of negative criticism & try to learn from it, but insecure people cannot take negative criticism.

  1. Pray for a humble & teachable heart.

  2. Beware of becoming defensive.
    (Our natural reaction is to fight back with defensive tactics, explanations, excuses, or hurting words)

  3. Let the critic finish - do not interrupt, as "Is that all?  Anything else?"  
    But sincerely hear all his or her concerns.  (James 1:19-20)

  4. Ask for evidence & the validity upon which the criticism is based.
    God may be using that person to tell you something you need to know.

  5. Ask yourself  "What is the Lord trying to do to/in/through me via this criticism?"
    About my attitude - too proud, self-centered, or selfish, etc?
    About my words & actions - committing of what should not be done or omitting of what need to be done?

  6. Let the criticism be a source of learning.
    We are too biased & subjective about ourselves to be objective & penetrating in self-examination as we need to be.
    Constructive criticism is an invaluable source of information for those who accept it.  Often we miss the blessing by spending more time justifying, excusing, or rationalizing an error than in trying to understand & benefit from criticism. We should appreciate that the critic (the person) cares enough for our welfare to take the uncomfortable action of informing us..

  7. Determine why the critic criticize you (the real motives) & whether the critic has needs revealed by his/her criticism.
    Be sensitive to that person's need.  Can you be helpful to him/her?

  8. Determine what the real problem is.
    - was it a basic problem or surface issue with deeper, more important problem.

  9. Determine carefully how to respond.
    Directly or indirectly?  Always with respect, honesty & honor.

  10. Talk about it , first to God, then to a trusted friend & seek advice for wisdom & prospective.

May we honor & please God in all we say & do.

How to handle the knowledge that nobody is perfect, & criticism is hard to swallow?

Our goal is to communicate effectively, to persuade, to motivate, & to improve the situations,
not just to make the person feel bad or worse than they do already.

  1. Create an open environment:
    Send the message that mistakes are a natural part of life
    Set the example by admitting your own mistakes.

  2. Avoid the blame game
    Think twice before you criticize, esp. if that person already knows the mistake & what needs to be done, then nothing at all needs to be said.
    There is no point in making people feel worse than they already do.
    Set an example of converting complaints into request & suggestions.  
    The real goal is to improve the situation.

  3. Criticize respectfully.
    People will be more receptive if we focus on the things they do right as well as the things they do wrong.
    The process of criticism should begin with praise & honest appreciation.
    Make the faults seem easy to correct.
    "Sandwich technique"  : = positive / negative / positive
    Never argue, demean, or shout at someone.
    Let the person save face at all cost.
    Be gentle, underplay, and don't attack.

Dale Carnegie Book:  "The Leader in You, How to Win Friends, Influence People & Succeed in A Changing World."

September 18, 1998 Our Daily Bread

The Problem With Critics
There is one who speaks like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. --Proverbs 12:18


Critics talk much and do little that is constructive. They are more interested in trying to make themselves look good by making others look bad.

If Nehemiah had listened to his critics, the wall around the city of Jerusalem would never have been rebuilt. Some of what those critics said to him was accurate. The wall was rubble and fire had burned the stones and caused them to crack and crumble (4:2-3). But the critics talked much and did absolutely nothing to help.

Years ago, Theodore Roosevelt noted, "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; . . . and who, . . . if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Where do you see yourself in this picture? Are you being pelted by unfair criticism as you are serving Christ? If so, keep on going and God will reward your efforts. Or do you recognize yourself as one who tends to be critical of others? If so, it's time to quit the demolition team and join the construction crew. --HWR

I would not criticize the one who works,
The one who listens to God's Word and heeds;
But I would criticize myself, dear Lord,
Confess to you my faithless words and deeds. --Hess

Any spectator can criticize the players; it takes skill and dedication to play the game.

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