What Do I Do When Someone Criticizes Me?

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,

A friend of mine criticized me for some life decisions I have made. I believe it is none of his business. However, he is a really good friend, so I am not sure what to do with his words of rebuke. Should I blow him off and not worry about it? Should I feel guilty? Should I defend myself? How should I respond?



Dear H.,

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. No one enjoys it; but Proverbs teaches that good criticism is one of the best things that can happen to us. Proverb 12:1 declares: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Since criticism is hard to handle, mentally, emotionally and physically, we want to learn how to handle it well—like David handled it when Nathan confronted him over his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah. Therefore, offering and receiving criticism is an art. Here are just a few tips listed below to help:

Have The right attitude.

  • No One Knows Everything; So, Don’t Be A “Know It All.” Proverb 29:1. 
  • No One Knows Everything; So, Develop A Learning  Heart. Proverbs 2:1-5.
  • No One Is Perfect, So Welcome Rebuke, Even If It Stings. Proverb 25:12.
  • People Have Different Priorities And Expectations; So Evaluate Criticism In Light Of Your Purposes And Calling In Life. Proverb 1:1-6.
  • Consider The Source. Some People Can’t Be Satisfied; Some Criticisms Aren’t Worth Engaging; Some People Aren’t Worth Listening To.

Have The right response.

  • Stop and look at the person. Criticism is serious business. Proverb 10:17.
  • Listen to what they have to say. Don’t answer too quickly. Proverb 18:13.
  • Not everyone sees from the same perspective. Accept their perception as real and valid. Proverb 12:15
  • Resist the temptation to defend. Don’t accuse or use labels. Proverb 23:9.
  • Don’t act like a fool by changing the subject or joking. Proverb 10:8.
  • Seek to understand what was really meant—and said. Restate the critic’s words and feelings in your own words to ensure that you both are talking about the same thing. Proverb 16:21
  • Let your wisdom show. Respond appropriately with humility, gratitude and apologies, if warranted.
  • Evaluations: If the criticism is true, make appropriate changes. If not, ignore it. Proverbs 13:18.

A Word to Critics.

Words are powerful things. Be careful what you say and how you say it.

  • Timing is sometimes more important than truth.
  • You may not know as much about what is going on as you think you do.

“Great is the man who can accept criticism. Greater yet is he who welcomes it. But greatest of all is he who knows how to administer it in a spirit of love and sensitivity without causing pain or chagrin.” (Rabbi Norman Lamm)

Hope this helps.








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