The Value of Criticism

Dear Sons and Daughters,

The noun “criticism” is often used to describe a negative comment about someone or something. But it is correct to use “criticism” to mean an examination or judgment. Critics who review books and movies consider their reviews to be criticism, whether positive or negative. So, the “criticism” you receive does not have to be all about your faults. It can actually be a positive experience.

Based on the above description certain criticisms have value to the person or circumstances being criticized. According to the ancient book of wisdom written by King Solomon, criticism is something we should not ignore. We should learn from being criticized. Read what he wrote in Proverbs 13:18 (NLT):

“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace;
If you accept correction, you will be honored.”

Proverbs 16:12-15 (MSG)

Some people tend to criticize everything you do, but they don’t dare to stand in your place or walk in your shoe. As the old American proverb says, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

It’s easy to criticize when you are on the sidelines, but it’s another thing to be in the crucible of a difficult situation. Life has taught me to only listen to criticism that is not judgmental or given from malicious intent. Judgmental and malicious criticism is just meant to distract you from your purpose. Discerning which criticisms are malicious, judgmental or constructive is not easy. The best way to determine whether a criticism is malicious or helpful is to know the source. In other words, know who is giving the criticism. A good Biblical example of receiving constructive or positive criticism is the story of Moses and Jethro.

Moses led the children of Israel from Egypt to Mount Sinai, the place where he first met God. While he was at Mount Sinai, his father-in-law Jethro, came to visit Moses, with his wife, and sons. Jethro observed how Moses judged the people all day, leaving Moses no time for himself or his family. Read Jethro’s criticism of Moses: “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Exodus 18:14 (NLT) Jethro criticized Moses for his leadership style, but he also gave him a solution to the problem. (Read Jethro’s answer in Exodus 18:17-24.)

My dear sons and daughters, this is how you discern criticism. Malicious and judgmental critics do not offer solutions or suggestions; they only want to criticize you. On the other hand, those who offer constructive criticism will always provide a solution or a better way of doing what you are doing.

One final lesson. It is up to you to listen to good criticism and make the necessary adjustments. Only then will you succeed and become more effective in fulfilling your purpose. Let’s end with this quote from Norman Vincent Peale: “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”


From My Heart!


Be Blessed,
Bishop Jemmott

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