Somebody recently told me that one of my sermons was long winded that day. What do you think I did? I thanked them.
Why? Because I want to be a better and better preacher and a better and better pastor. The only way I’m going to do that is to get feedback from people. The only way I’m going to get feedback from it’s if I welcome it when they give it.
This person took a chance on telling me something that no pastor really wants to hear. Not directly anyways. I would rather hear, “Pastor, your sermon touched my soul.”! But, a person who wants to grow will want to know where they fell short.
And so this person told me I was a little long winded that day. So this is what I texted that person the next day:
Thanks for telling me I was a little long winded yesterday! No, seriously. I was a little long winded and it’s nice to have people around me who offer honest and loving and good-natured feedback. Don’t stop.
Then my philosophy of thanking people for constructive criticism was really tested, because the person offered me additional feedback! But this, too, is good because it indicates that my thanks was received as genuine and so the trust in our relationship grew.
So criticism, accepted well, provides a double opportunity. Personal growth and relationship growth.
This isn’t always the case, of course. Some people may hit you with criticism out of fear or anger or something else. But even in that case you have a chance to respond with kindness and build the relationship. Often a person’s angry criticism comes out of pain they are dealing with them their own life.
Also, this attitude doesn’t develop overnight. In the beginning, you may have to be very contemplative and intentional about cultivating your positive responses to criticism. But in the long run, it is very worth the effort.
So next time someone offers you criticism, be thankful! It’s your chance to learn, your chance to grow, and your chance you build the relationship. What an opportunity!