By: Kacie Starr Long
It was early morning in Kampala, Uganda and that meant it was late evening in the U.S. I sat cross-legged on my single mattress Ugandan bed and scrolled social media intently on my iPhone; hoping the country's 3G internet connection could keep up with my 5G desire to know everything that was happening back home.
I scrolled through images of friends' fun, family vacations. I saw pictures of friends trying new restaurants and others sharing challenging Bible verses, and then I saw....the post.
Her social media post brought fire immediately out the gate!
It was angry, critical, and directed at me and others who had made the decision to share the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the continent of Africa.
I didn't know the author of the social media post well, she had visited my business several times and we had several friendly conversations about our shared love of sewing.
I had been documenting my 11-day mission trip to Kampala, Uganda, to lead a women's conference for formerly incarcerated women on social media, and my posts about Christianity and Africa did not sit well with her.
Through her post, she shared her frustration and indignation about how she was seeing more and more Christians visiting Africa to 'save the people through religion', and she was convinced that Africa did not need saving through Christianity.
I would like to say that after reading her post I was unbothered.
I would like to say that after reading her post, I just shook my head in disagreement, and kept scrolling; but honestly, I was shaken.
Although her social media post did not call me out by name, I knew that her seeing my multiple posts about Jesus, Africa, and Christianity, served as an impetus for her frustration and criticism toward Christianity and evangelism taking place.
So, what do we do when we experience criticism, whether it's direct or indirect?
This incident is one example of receiving criticism, but honestly the past week or so, I have experienced several more criticisms, that have caused me to slow down and think deeply about the best way to respond.
Here are a few things I am learning:
1. Girl, Slow Down.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19)
I don't know about you, but when I feel attacked or misunderstood, my flesh wants to immediately respond to defend myself. Sure, I thought about writing a social media post to explain WHY I felt called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa, and how that is part of the Great Commission, but I realized that the author of the post was not a believer in Jesus Christ, and my going back and forth with her through social media would be fruitless.
I, in turn, needed to slow down and hear from God. I reached out to a fellow Jewel Warrior (hey Jacki!) who I saw that was online at the time, and asked her to pray with me. I didn't want to get distracted from my assignment in Uganda. Jacki, also prayed for the author of the social media post, that one day she would encounter Jesus Christ and understand why there is so much joy in sharing the wonderful, gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere we go.
2. Ask Yourself, Is the Criticism True?
"A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence." Proverbs 15:5
Recently, I came across a review from a book that I wrote a few years ago. This book was the toughest for me to write and is also one of my favorite books. I have received very good reviews over the years, but recently, one reader gave me two out of five stars.
Boy, I was so angry when I saw that review! As I read the feedback, I became defensive and wondered how many books the reviewer had written! But then I felt the Holy Spirit ask, is it true? Despite the delivery of the feedback, are there some things that you can incorporate in your next books to make them better? And yes, there are some things that the reviewer provided that will make me a stronger author.
3. Respond Softly.
“A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
This week my husband and I encountered a lady who couldn't seem to understand why my husband's products were not free. She went on to state how Pastors and the church are just after money, and why didn't people just provide books and materials for free instead of charging. I tried explaining to her that the sale of these products, in turn, helps fund the classes and workshops my husband does inside the prisons and transitional homes for free.
The more I tried to explain, she still wasn't having it. She implied we were greedy and heartless. This was very hurtful, as I know the backstory to our family's ministry and how there have been years when we have served without a salary, and how we have believed God for the money to publish the books we have written, that we often just sow anyway. So how did I respond to this criticism? I shut up. God revealed to me that this woman was hurting. Her accusation was not true, but instead of trying to defend our honor, (and me being snippy) to respond in love. My husband was excellent. Oblivious to our conversation, he offered to give a book to her and autographed it for her family member. She was very, very, grateful.
I have a feeling that more 'criticism tests' may be coming my way. I feel like God, really wants to get this deep into my heart that I don't have to respond to every single 'dig' or accusation that comes my way. Instead, be prepared by wearing my spiritual armor and responding always, always in love. I pray that reading this article, it will remind you when faced with criticism to Slow down, ask yourself if the criticism is true, and respond in love.
Hi, my name is Kacie Starr Long. I am an author, and speaker and I love to use my voice to point people to Jesus. When I'm not writing, I'm either working out at Orange Theory Fitness or sewing. God delivered me from food addiction and I have a sewing ministry, called the Sew Hope Community Sewing Room. I am the proud wife of Alfred T. Long, Sr and together we lead a non-profit that serves prisoners and their families. Connect with me at www.InspiredOverflow.com and via my YouTube page for Christian teachings and encouragement.