In a recent commentary for Baptist Press, LifeWay CEO Thom Rainer talks about ways he has learned from his critics. Among his seven suggestions:

Criticism helps me to think twice before I criticize others. I know the pain of criticism. I know the hurt that comes when a critic comes after me with an unfounded accusation. If I don’t like that pain, why should I inflict it on others? I recently spoke with a pastor who was lamenting the level of criticism he receives, but this pastor has a blog that is inevitably critical of someone almost every time he writes. He does not see the inconsistency in his behavior and the way he would like to be treated.

“Consider the source” is a good guideline. I have learned that some people are just negative. They seem stuck in that one disposition. They skip the reading of Philippians 4 because the text mandates we “rejoice in the Lord.” Some critics should be heard. Many should not.

Criticism can lead us to greater depths of prayer. I wish I were the man of prayer that I should be; but I fall short, very short of where I need to be. Criticism hurts me. Sometimes the pain is more than I can handle, so I turn it over to my Lord to handle it for me. I wish I did that all the time. Sometimes the criticism is extremely painful and just what I needed. It drives me to pray even more fervently.

Sometimes the critic is right. Yes, it’s painful to be criticized; but on more occasions than I’m comfortable admitting, I’ve had the additional pain of learning that I indeed needed correction. The Bible can be pretty straightforward about it: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Call me stupid. Criticism hurts, but it can be for our benefit. The critic can be right.

God, give me the discernment to know when to listen to my critic so that I might truly learn and change. I have a long way to go. (Click here to read the full article.)

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