Being the giver of criticism can sometimes make us feel like the heartless monster. We usually think of it merely as pointing out the faults in another. It certainly can be this way. But another definition of criticism is weighing the good and the bad, and making an evaluation based upon them. This second definition is really the only kind of useful criticism you can provide, as it can be used to help and teach. But a few criticizing remarks won’t be of much help or teach very well. The thing about helping and teaching is that they go beyond mere evaluations!
Assess what you’re about to say. Is it worth saying?
When you are providing sincere and useful criticism, double check your plan of approach and the words you’re thinking of giving. Do you really know what you’re talking about? Do you know that what you are going to say is right, honorable and respectful? Is it something God would want you to say? When you do give criticism, give it in a way that will show the other that what you mean is in good nature, not bad. The one you are criticizing needs to know that you’re offering them encouragement and helpful advice, not putting them down. So, take the time to ask the person you are criticizing what God is teaching them right now, or what struggles they are currently facing. Ask yourself if you are making any inaccurate conclusions and if the premise for your conclusion is correct and finally ask God to reveal to you His view on the circumstance. This will start things on the right foot.
What’s your intention?
Either you’ll want to impact someone for their sake, or you’ll impact them with your own selfish ideas in mind. But our ideas for another’s life are nothing to the advice they actually need. We can’t foresee everything in another’s life, to give them just the right advice all the time. That’s God’s job; He knows what to say to each of us perfectly. We can, however, stop to listen. Understanding a person is not a common quality you’ll find in life, because promoting your own thoughts has become an ordinary and acceptable practice. Learn to stop and understand another and their problem, if you are not already, before you criticize the problem you see. In Philippians 2 it talks about not doing anything from selfishness or conceit, but to be humble and regard others as more important. It talks about how we shouldn’t merely look out for ourselves, but also for others. God did this when He came to earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ.
Give the reasons!
We learn best when we understand the reasons for something. Don’t point out anything bad unless you give the reasons for why it is bad, and make sure to compliment the good points you see. This keeps the evaluation balanced, encouraging and edifying. In 2 Timothy 3, it speaks of how the scriptures are good for teaching, so that we may be adequate and equipped. The Bible is overflowing with the reasons for why something is wrong or right! Learn from God, and you’ll be able to teach others!
Note the reality.
Making an evaluation of someone is nothing minor. It’s a big thing to do. You can impact someone either negatively or positively (sometimes even unintentionally). Our words are powerful instruments because people receive what we say. Some people are happy to receive insight, keeping God’s truth and joy to their heart. We can easily confront these people because they understand how to admit mistakes, and create change in their own life if appropriate. Others are not always happy to receive such insight. They’ll either let it knock them down, or protect themselves to avoid receiving challenging information. With these people, a slightly more caring approach is needed.
When is it worth it?
When should you actually give criticism? It comes down to a simple question, what is truly helpful? Sometimes it is better to keep silent, than to speak up on given problems. You’ll have to evaluate the situation before you can determine whether or not it is more helpful to keep quiet or to speak up. You should also check to see if you are in the appropriate position to give a particular person criticism. Sometimes we’re not in the right position, or we’re not the most effective person, to provide another with such remarks.
What sort of receiver is the person you’re criticizing?
If they don’t know how to receive criticism maturely, chances are they need help to understand what you mean by your criticism. As we previously noted, there are people who can take criticism well, and those who find it difficult to consider or accept. To be a good helper, you’ll need to explain what you mean in a loving way. This is especially true, should they misunderstand your intensions. But even when great care is taken in how you give criticism, remember that the person you are criticizing still might not accept what you say. Should this be the case, back down from the situation; there is no point in pursuing it if they are not ready to open up. But you may continue to pray for them, and to be a friendly face!
Where to give criticism.
Giving criticism is a private matter. The rest of the world doesn’t need to partake in such personal interaction. This will be a time to put down your electronic gizmos that can spread your words like wild fire across the internet and speak to them one on one. Especially since human interaction is more complex than a few emoticons. This will be a time to engage in conversation, rather than giving them a few criticizing statements. Ask them their view on the matter, feeling out where to go from there. If you find you were mistaken in something, apologize. If they agree they need to make a change, ask them if they want any help and provide the help they ask for if you can.
When it comes to giving criticism, you have to ask yourself, why am I doing it? To help, or to be a nuisance by proving myself right or justifying my own issues and ideas? There is nothing more beneficial than a person who takes what is often misused and uses it in the way that is intended by God! Making evaluations of others is only worth it if it’s considerate, helpful, edifying, honest and God-lead. Ephesians 4:29 talks about not letting unwholesome words come from you, but only words that are good for edification, according to the need of the moment. In this way, those who hear may benefit. Talk about saying good-bye to the heartless monster!