Coping With Critics

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by Bill Purvis

As long as you catch more than one crab, you don’t need a lid for your bucket. You can leave the top wide open and the crabswon’t escape.

Here’s the reason. Every time one crab starts to crawl out of the bucket, the others pull it back in. They’re comfortable as long as everyone’s in the bucket. But if one starts to climb upward, the others whip out their claws. Instead of following the adventurous crab to freedom, jealousy drives the others to pull the escapee back down. Little do these crabs know that their comfort zone is really a danger zone. They’re all headed for the same place—the big boiling pot! If only they realized they were as good as dead in the bucket, they might be willing to help each other out instead of pulling each other down.

Something similar happens to you and me. When we start to crawl out of our old way of life, it won’t be long until we meet with some kind of resistance. Try to break through to a new way of life and the “crabs” will soon stretch out their claws to pull you back down. Growth and success prompt jealousy. Everyone wants to be successful, but few want you to be successful.

Jealousy has been described as “resentment against a rival” and “an unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has.” It springs from focusing on others and what they possess instead of focusing on God and what He’s given us. It’s an attitude that’s obsessed with self. Your achievements will always test both you and the people around you.

Once, a man who’d been criticized for buying a new house asked me, “What’s the difference between enjoying God’s blessings and being materialistic?”“The difference,” I explained, “has to do with who has the new house. When your critics have a new house, they say, ‘God blessed us.’ But if you have a new house, you’re being materialistic.”

If you were to reach all your goals, would your friends rejoice?

Your friends will be watching as you pursue God’s vision for your life. The closer you get to that vision, the greater their temptation to give in to jealousy. When jealousy takes over, it typically rears its head over one of the following:

Possessions: “I want what they have.” Your vision might include hosting youth groups in your home. But if you buy a big-screen TV or stereo system to make your home more appealing for those youth, your critics may not like it.

Positions: “I want to be where they are.” The pastor at your church sees your potential as a worship leader and promotes you—be prepared to hear whispers behind your back.

Privileges: “I want to do what they get to do.” The head of the environmental company where you work asks you to join the advance travel team that will prepare for an upcoming conference in Europe. Don’t expect everyone in the office to be happy about it.

Progress: “I want to achieve what they’ve achieved.” You change your marketing approach, become more open and honest, and double your sales. You may be shunned by colleagues because of it.

People: “I want to be who they are.” As you share your vision for creating a foundation for abused children, almost everyone in your circle gets more and more excited about it and you. The people who don’t may very well be jealous.

All too often, the jealousy your critics experience over your progress will move beyond a feeling into something more. They will tend to lash out with their words or actions. The result is betrayal.

So what should you do if you find yourself surrounded by critics or jealous friends? You can start by being encouraged. Criticism and jealousy are often indicators that you’re growing and making progress. Plus, persevering through these obstacles not only strengthens your character but also may be the very path that leads to your destiny.

In addition to being encouraged, you can take several other practical steps to keep your critics from derailing your ride to your destiny.

Inspect yourself. Not all criticism is bad. Sometimes it can help you recognize your faults. Ask yourself: “Is there any truth to this criticism?” Then ask a trusted friend or mentor the same question. If you discern that there is any truth to it, own up to it and address it.

Ignore your critics. The greatest danger in handling critics is becoming like them. Don’t waste your time trying to put out fires all the time. You’ll wear yourself out and lose your focus. Often your best response is simply to continue doing what God has called you to do.

Stand up to your critics.There will be times when simply ignoring your critics either is not an option or is unwise. Constant criticism from a parent, for example, may create a toxic atmosphere for your spouse and kids. In that case, you need to do something about the situation for the sake of your family. Prayer and wisdom will guide you in knowing when you must stand up to your detractors.

Close the door to critics. When someone comes to me and says, “What do you think about John?” I know immediately that they are seeking permission to say something negative about John. I enjoy watching them stammer when I say something like, “I love John. He is one of my best buddies. Now, what was it you wanted to tell me about John?” Suddenly, they have nothing more to say.

Keep clear relational boundaries to avoid critics. I recommend being cautious of people who try to move quickly into your intimate circle. They have not been tested. Those who enter quickly usually leave quickly. It’s better to be lonely than surrounded by a company of critics.

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Taken from Make a Break for It by Bill Purvis Copyright ©2016 by Bill Purvis Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

Dr. Bill Purvis grew up in Eufaula, AL. His story is one that is evidence of God’s grace and ability to change lives. On Easter Sunday morning of April, 1983, with only 32 people present, Bill and Debbie were called to Cascade Hills Church of Columbus, GA as Senior Pastor. Today the membership has grown to exceed over 8,000 people. His ministry at Cascade Hills has been blessed with an uncommon anointing. Learn more about Bill and at https://billpurvis.com