20 Helpful Thoughts On Criticism

“Criticism is something you can avoid easily—by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.” —Aristotle 

“The Lord uses critics to show us our own hearts, even if what they say is not fully true, informed, or even fair. There is almost always a germ of truth in what our critics (in their own pain and disappointment) shout at us. The wise leader will humble himself and look for the truth embedded in every oppositional interaction.” —Dick Brogden [see 2 Samuel 16:5-12] 

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” —Ken Blanchard 

“Criticism can be received as a gift from God. It is an opportunity to pray, search Scripture, evaluate your own heart, and offer grace to others. The right response to criticism should not be retaliation or pride (which just perpetuates hurt), but rather humility.” —Jeremy Carr

“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.” —Dr. J. Lee Whittington

“If I were to attempt to answer all the criticisms and complaints I receive, I would have no time for any other business. From day to day I do the best I can and will continue to do so till the end. If in the end I come out all right, then the complaints and criticisms and what is said against me will make no difference. But, if the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels coming down from heaven to swear I was right would still make no difference.” —Abraham Lincoln

“If a ministry is God-anointed, it doesn’t matter who criticizes it. If it’s not anointed, it doesn’t matter who praises it.” —Rick Warren 

“Your critics have information that your friends are withholding.” —John Maxwell 

“God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” —Oswald Chambers 

“No leader is exempt from criticism and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it.” —J. Oswald Sanders 

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body: It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” —Winston Churchill 

“Every man needs a blind eye and a deaf ear, so when people applaud, you’ll only hear half of it, and when people salute, you’ll only see part of it. Believe only half the praise and half the criticism.” —C.H. Spurgeon 

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie

“A mark of a godly leader is one so focused on God’s plan that he pays no attention to his critics or enemies.” —Craig T. Owens

“Never be afraid of honest criticism. If the critic is wrong, you can help him; and if you’re wrong, he can help you. Either way, somebody’s helped.” —A.W. Tozer 

“It’s so much easier to teach correct principles than it is to know and love a person. It’s so much easier to give brilliant advice than to empathize and be open. It’s so much easier to live independently than to live interdependently. It’s so much easier to be a judge than to be a light. It’s so much easier to be a critic than to be a model.” —Stephen Covey

“When is it inappropriate to praise a critical person? One: When you are being criticized for outright sin, and the criticism is accurate. If what is said is true, the tension you feel will be relieved only one way: confession. Two: when you are falsely accused of sin. Sin is a serious charge, obviously more serious than those ‘against you’ realize or they would have done their homework.” —Blaine Allen

Don’t let an arrow of criticism pierce your heart unless it first passes through the filter of Scripture.” —Mark Batterson

“There is no better antidote for unjust criticism than a clear conscience before God.” —James Hernando

“It is not the critic who counts; nor the many who point out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.” —Teddy Roosevelt 

11 Quotes From “The Heart Of A Leader”

As the title hints, Ken Blanchard makes the case that the heart of great leadership is a leader’s great heart. You can check out my full book review of The Heart Of A Leader by clicking here.

“Remember, the best leaders are those who understand that their power flows through them, not from them.”

“Many well-intentioned leaders wait to praise their people until they do things exactly right, complete the project, or accomplish the goal. The problem here is that they could wait forever. You see, ‘exactly right’ behavior is made up of a whole series of approximately right behaviors. It makes more sense to praise progress.”

“An effective leader will make it a priority to help his or her people produce good results in two ways: making sure people know what their goals are and doing everything possible to support, encourage, and coach them to accomplish those goals.”

“If you don’t take time out to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done.”

“Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running in a different race.” —Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale

“Being too hard on yourself is counterproductive. Don’t expect instant perfection. Though self-criticism is healthy, it should not be destructive. It’s unfair to be hard on yourself the first time you attempt something new. It is also unfair to expect others to meet such an unrealistic expectation. Keep in mind that it’s unnecessary to do everything exactly right the first time.”

“Here’s a great rule for doing business today: Think more about your people, and they will think more of themselves.”

“When you ask people about the best leader they ever had, one quality is always mentioned: they are good listeners. These leaders have learned to ‘sort by others.’ When someone says, ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ they respond by keeping the focus on the speaker. For example, they’ll respond, ‘It sounds like you’re pretty happy today.’ Poor listeners ‘sort by self.’ If you express a concern you have, they will express a concern they have.”

“Leading people is the opposite of trying to control them; it’s about gaining their trust through your integrity, developing their potential through your partnership, and motivating them through your affirmation.”

“Consistency does not mean behaving the same way all the time. It actually means behaving the same way under similar circumstances. … When you respond to your people in the same way under similar circumstances, you give them a valuable gift: the gift of predictability.”

“Remember that the primary biblical image of servant leadership is that of the shepherd. The flock is not there for the sake of the shepherd; the shepherd is there for the sake of the flock.”

The Heart Of A Leader (book review)

Kenneth Blanchard has delivered to us some game-changing books over his years of writing. He has challenged us to do business in a different way, he has coached us on how to take control of our lives, and he has equipped us to better invest in the lives of the people around us. But ultimately he tells us that leadership is an issue of the heart. The Heart Of A Leader is a collection of quotes and insights from Ken Blanchard which go right to the heart of a leader.

Time and time again Blanchard uses the phrase “an effective leader.” He is not primarily concerned with leaders being efficient, and he certainly doesn’t define leadership success by an organization’s financial wellbeing. In his mind, an effective leader engages his heart first to serve those whom he leads.

Throughout his career, Blanchard has partnered with some amazingly insightful co-authors to bring a fresh perspective on how leaders can lead best from the heart. Many of these co-authors are featured in The Heart Of A Leader, which will help you see new paradigms of leadership acumen.

If you’ve never read anything from Ken Blanchard before, this book is a good sampler that will help you choose a book to read in its entirety. If you are already a fan of Blanchard’s writings, this book will help you see the consistency of his work. In either case, you cannot go wrong in reading these helpful words!

Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges On Forgiveness

lead-like-jesus“Forgiveness is the way for a heart grounded in the unconditional love of God to respond to the imperfections of others. … EGO-driven leaders, impatient for results, are quick to judge and discount less-than-perfect efforts as failure rather than to forgive and redirect. Forgiveness is a supernatural act, not a natural response to being hurt or let down. It is an act of the will, a choice, of one who has surrendered control to a higher court of judgment. …

“The opposite of forgiveness is judgment. Your motivation for doing something is as important as what you do. In theological terms, judgment is pointing out a fault with a view to condemnation. On the other hand, discernment is pointing out a fault with a view to correction or restoration. When we withhold forgiveness, is it because we are sincerely trying to correct or restore—or is it because there is some benefit to us in condemning?” —Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges

Attitude Check

Attitude checkWhen we realize that nothing can thwart God’s plan, and that you and I are a part of that plan, I think there could be a couple of attitudes that might pop up: (1) Confidence―not in my abilities, but in God’s; or (2) Humility―not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less.

Confidence without humility leads to self-destructive pride, and humility without confidence leads to self-destructive fear. We need confidence with humility, just like Jesus demonstrated in going to the old rugged Cross.

We can see the confidence in Jesus when He claims to be the “I AM” (John 8:54-59). But we can also see the humility of Jesus when He said He would lay His life down (John 10:11, 15:13).

These two attitudes converge powerfully in John 13:1-17 when we read that Jesus knew that God had put all authority under His command (vv. 1, 3), and then He used His confident authority to serve His friends by washing their feet.

Confidence without humility won’t serve because it thinks others must serve them. Humility without confidence won’t serve because it thinks others will take advantage of them. But Jesus was confidently humble (or humbly confident) so He could serve. It’s the only time Jesus said “I have set you an example” (v. 15). Our attitude is to mirror His, and we are to confidently and humbly serve.

A humbly-confident / confidently-humble servant is known by his or her:

  • Heart―E.G.O. (edging God out) or E.G.O. (exalting God only) [*]
  • Head―having his/her thoughts aligned with the Word of God
  • Hands―serving God and others (Matthew 20:25-28)

If you were to honestly reflect on this, where do you rate yourself?

  • Are you confident that God loves you and has a plan for your life, a plan that cannot be thwarted?
  • Are you humble enough to serve others? To give up your own agenda so that God is glorified?
  • Can you honestly say you have the right E.G.O.?
  • Are your thoughts becoming more and more aligned and shaped by God’s Word?

We’ll be continuing our series on The Old Rugged Cross next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

[*] My thanks to Kenneth Blanchard for his insightful description of E.G.O. in his book Lead Like Jesus

Catch ‘Em Doing Right

Ken Blanchard was right: we spend way too much time trying to catch someone doing something wrong (or worry that they’re going to do something wrong), and not enough time trying to catch them doing something right.

Good job…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things…. (Philippians 4:8)

…love rejoices in the truth…. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

I should be praying for and looking for praiseworthy things. Why? People generally live up to someone’s expectations (they live down to their expectations too)—especially someone who has demonstrated they care about them.

Listen to John’s right-catching statement:

It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 3-4)

“The truth” is sometimes taught in a Christian home or in a church, or maybe it’s caught there. The child or the churchgoer has heard the truth, but then do we honestly believe the truth—along with God’s Spirit reminding them of that truth—somehow becomes ineffectual?

We often act like that. We’re more willing to believe the negative reports than the positive reports. Perhaps, like John, I need to be more ready to catch others doing right. Perhaps I need to be more ready to rejoice in the success stories. Perhaps I need to pray for greater discernment to see the positive changes the truth is making in those I love.

If we pray, God will help us catch others doing right.

Book Reviews From 2012

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