12 Things To Do When You’re Criticized

We will all be criticized at one time or another. Sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Sometimes others’ criticism of us is harsh and undeserved. Sometimes we may need it. How do we respond to criticism? I haven’t always done well and I’m still learning, but here are a few things I try to think of when others criticize me.

Be quick to hear. (James 1:19)

This can be hard to do because our emotions rise up and our minds begin to think of ways to refute the other person.  To be quick to hear means we really do try to listen to and consider what the other person is saying. We don’t just write it off. Even if it seems unjust or undeserved.

Be slow to speak (James 1:19).

Don’t interrupt or respond too quickly. Let them finish. If you speak too quickly you might speak rashly or in anger.

Be slow to become angry.

Why? Because James 1:19-20 says the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Anger won’t make someone do the right thing. Remember, God is slow to anger, patient and long-suffering with those who offend him. How much more should we be.

Don’t rail back.

“When (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).  Talk about being unjustly accused – Jesus was, yet continued to trust the Lord and did not revile in return.

Give a gentle response.  

“A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Be gracious even to those who offend you, even as God is gracious to us when we offend him.

Don’t defend yourself too quickly.

Defensiveness can rise out of pride and being unteachable.

Consider what might be true in the critique, even if it is given in a poor way.

Even if it is given with the intent to hurt or mock, there still might be something worth considering. God might be speaking to you through this person.

Remember the Cross.

Someone has said that people won’t say anything about us that the Cross hasn’t said and more, which is, we are sinners who deserve eternal punishment. So actually, anything anyone says about us is less than what the Cross has said about us.  Turn to God who accepts you in Christ unconditionally despite your many sins and failures.  We can be discouraged when we see areas of sin or failure but Jesus has paid for those on the cross and God is pleased with us because of Christ.

Consider the fact that you have blind spots  

We can’t always see ourselves accurately. Maybe this person is seeing something you can’t see about yourself.

Pray about the criticism

Ask God for wisdom – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

Ask others for their opinion

Your critic could be right or completely off-the-wall. If this is an area of sin or weakness in your life, then others will have seen it too.

Consider the source.  

Don’t do this too quickly, but consider the other person’s possible motives, their level of expertise or wisdom, etc. They may be criticizing you to hurt you or they may not know what they’re talking about.


  • Larry

    In a world that seems to be filled with increasing levels of conflict, this is very timely. Love it. I need to write those down! Thanks!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Larry!

  • Elaine

    Great post, Mark. Thanks for the encouragment – this list will now have a home on our family corkboard.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thank you, Elaine. I'm honored it would make your corkboard.

  • Shawn

    The first sentence after #10 is so critical "don't do this quickly." We often dismiss anything that some people will say, not realizing that God sometimes uses the most unexpected sources to speak through. Thanks Mark these are really helpful.

    • Shawn

      Oops, #12 not #10

      • Mark Altrogge

        Thanks Shawn!

  • Leigh-Ann

    This is so timely and helpful!!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thank you Leigh-Ann!

  • jamey

    i am new to your blog and have found much encouragement and even conviction from your sharing. thanks for the reminder from james 1.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Jamie, I'm grateful the Lord would encourage you in any way through the blog.

  • Caroline

    The printout of this post is going on my cubicle soft board at work. Thanks for the post :)

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Caroline, I'm honored you would even read it.

  • Mike G.

    That is the receipe for humble pie, very nutritious for the soul! It’s mmmm mmmm. Good!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Mike! It's always better to eat humble pie on our own rather than be forced to do it. Thanks for adding your comment!

  • Mike G.

    Moses was a very humble man, more so than any man on the face of the earth. Numbers ” 12: 3

    • Mark Altrogge

      Great verse Mike!

  • Frederika

    Very helpful advice I wish I could remember to follow up better..

  • Frederika

    Very helpful advice I wish I could remember to practice better.

  • Mark Altrogge

    Thanks Frederika, we're all in process! And Jesus is changing all who trust in him. I want to keep getting better at this myself.

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  • Rick

    Mark, I could not resist criticizing your list. Why are there 12? Shouldn't there be 7 since that is the number of perfection? And what gives you the right to tell me how to respond to criticism? You have no idea what kind of people I have had to deal with in my church and family!!

    Seriously, just kidding about the above paragraph! Very good reminder that I was able to read to a fellow pastor sitting across the table from me!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey Rick, You almost got me going for a second. Then I would have had to repent. Grateful you would even read it, let alone use it.

  • Betty Jean Young

    These were very good insights/suggestions and I put them on a card for my 5 x 7 file. Thanks. y
    By the way, I appreciate all the things you post and look forward to reading them.
    Love, Anut Betty

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks so much, Betty!

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