Reacting to Criticism and Confrontation



When you need to show others their fault, do not talk down to them as though you are faultless and they are inferior to you. Instead, talk with them as though you are standing side-by-side at the foot of the cross. Acknowledge your present, ongoing need for the Savior. Admit ways that you have wrestled with the same or other sins or weaknesses, and give hope by describing how God has forgiven you and is currently working in you to help you change … When people sense this kind of humility and common bond, they will less inclined to react to correction with pride and defensiveness.

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 172

Food for Thought

How do you respond to criticism and confrontation? As Ken reminds us in the above passage, our natural tendency all too often is to respond with pride and defensiveness.

  • We emphasize our strengths and make excuses for our weaknesses. Then when we compare ourselves to others, we naturally think, “Hey! I’m not as bad as they are!”
  • Rather than humbly listening to the criticism and striving to grow in wisdom and grace, we attack the person who is confronting us. Such arrogance blinds us and dooms us to immaturity.

There is a better way. Rather than focusing on our strengths or even focusing on our confronter, we can focus our passions, energies, and attention where they rightly belong–the cross of Jesus Christ.

The Cross and Criticism, the depth of our depravity is so great that our only hope is to rely solely on Jesus. And his death is sufficient. His resurrection is sufficient. Because he lived and died and rose again, we need never despair.

When we gaze at the holiness of God and see the awesome price that had to be paid for our salvation–the very death of the very Son of God–we see beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever criticism a person might lay on us, they don’t know the half of it. As Alfred Poirier reminds us in his article,

Even when confronted? Even then.

In fact, I would go so far as to say especially then. Whether the confrontation is gracious or graceless; redemptive or just plain-ol’ mean … we can humbly listen, give it its due, grow in grace, and move on. Because just as Ken reminds us above, “God has forgiven us and is working in us to help us to change.”

 — Tara Barthel (Billings, MT) is a former attorney and director at Peacemaker Ministries, and the author of our new Women’s Study. She currently serves her family as a homemaker while regularly speaking at women’s events and blogging on God’s considerable grace

~~ok, I’m seriously loving that Tara is writing some of these Peacemaker devotionals.

She is a refreshing female breath and wise. check out her links above.

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