Have you ever been criticized? The answer would be a big YES! All of us have been criticized one way or another. But the kinds of criticism that many could not handle are those that are negative and put-downs. Although we would love to hear positive ones, yet we could not stop the other kind from coming our way no matter how we try. How should we deal with them then? Here’s a story to illustrate…“A farmer came into town and asked the owner of a restaurant if he could use a million frog legs. The restaurant owner was shocked and asked the man where he could get so many frog legs! The farmer replied, "There is a pond near my house that is full of frogs--millions of them. They croak all during the night and are about to drive me crazy!" So the restaurant owner and the farmer made an agreement that the farmer would deliver frogs to the restaurant five hundred at a time for the next several weeks. The first week, the farmer returned to the restaurant looking rather sheepish, with two scrawny little frogs. The restaurant owner said, "Well...where are all the frogs?" The farmer said, "I was mistaken. There were only these two frogs in the pond. But they sure were making a lot of noise!"
Next time you hear somebody criticizing or making fun of you, remember it's probably just a couple of noisy frogs. Also--remember that problems always seem bigger in the dark. Have you ever lain in your bed at might worrying about things which seem almost overwhelming--like a million frogs croaking? Chances are pretty good that when the morning comes, and you take a closer look, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.
Keeping oneself in control of your response mechanism is a good way of reacting to criticisms positively. Here are some specific suggestions for you to apply; (1) Always hear first before you react, (2) Think and evaluate what was said before you react, (3) Give the benefit of the doubt that the person said it the best way he or she knows how, (4) Never judge prematurely that they are belittling you, (5) Lastly, if you are unsure of the meaning of the words spoken to you, seek to clarify it for your own benefit. If you are not able to do it, then receive it as a compliment. Do not over-analyze what you’ve heard.
Remember that people have always something to say. Although there are times that they may not know how to say it. And you could take comfort in knowing that they meant well. It is just too bad that they spilled the wrong words first.
We could glean some important teaching from the Scriptures from the one who was criticized so much but did not retaliate. In Isaiah 53:7, Jesus was seen by the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before he was born and described him as this: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (NLT)
Jesus gave us a great picture of how should we respond to criticisms. Keep in mind that Jesus endured all kinds of criticisms in order to give us freedom from dwelling too much in them. He provided a canopy of protection for us to receive them with all love and understanding of those who gave them. When hanging on the cross, He was looked down and spoken down to. But he prayed a prayer that became a pattern for all of us. He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We could even include “even what they are saying.”
When we imitate the attitude of Jesus, I’m pretty sure that our perspective of listening and receiving criticisms will radically changed for the better. Never measure yourself with what people are saying but what God has declared in His word about us that we “were wonderfully and fearfully made.” Let the two frogs croak until they lose their voice while you keep doing what God wanted you to do.
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