Job 18:1-4 (NIV) 1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: 2 “When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. 3 Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in your sight? 4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
On verses 1-21: Bildad keeps making the same mistake despite receiving feedback from Job. Job has already repeatedly expressed, with directness and clarity, how he wishes his friends would talk to him differently (Job 6:25-26; Job 13:3-4; 16:2-4). Yet instead of giving real consideration to what Job is saying, instead of recognizing the error of his ways and adjusting, Bildad at first gets defensive (v3-4) and then continues on with his same mistaken approach. Bildad continues to attack Job and uses his indirect but not so subtle way of linking what has happened to Job with what happens to wicked people (v5-21).
What can we learn from this? How we respond to criticism is crucial.When we don’t respond well to valid constructive criticism, we will keep on making the same mistakes.
Here are some things I’m learning about responding to criticism:
Sometimes the reason a person criticizes you has little to do with you. Sometimes the reason that person is critical is because they themselves are dealing with unresolved issues. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. So if there is someone in your life who is incessantly critical and not emotionally healthy, do not take everything they say personally. In some cases, the best way to respond to such a critic is to ignore them.
Sometimes the reason a person criticizes is because they do not understand your situation. As Pastor Craig Groeschel points out, we are quick to criticize what we don’t understand. So if the criticism you are receiving is due to a lack of understanding, the best way to respond may be to explain the situation from your perspective so that they understand where you are coming from.
Sometimes you will receive criticism that is valid. That criticism may not have been expressed in the right way, but still it is good for us to take anything that is valid from that criticism and use it for our own growth. Is there a criticism you have received repeatedly that may actually be valid and worth considering? Proverbs15:31 (NLT) says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.” Remember that your value does not depend on the opinion of others. Your value was already settled at the cross where Jesus died for you. So live with confidence and be humble enough to keep learning and growing from constructive criticism.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would be excellent at responding to criticism. Help me to discern when a criticism is worth listening to or when it is something I should ignore. In those times when I am criticized for good and valid reasons, even if it does not feel good, or even if the way that criticism was delivered was not the best way, may I take what is valid from that criticism to help me grow and mature. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!