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3 Powerful Ways to Handle Your Haters

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A Case Study on How 3 Writers Responded to Critics

A tale of three Christians: (left to right) Lecrae, Amy Grant and Jen Hatmaker

Images via Flickr

How do you deal with criticism?

If you write and publish anything regularly, it’s only a matter of time before someone criticizes your work. Sometimes, the criticism is polite disagreement. But there are other times when people will attack you and your beliefs.

What’s a writer to do?

All writers and artists will face criticism, regardless of their beliefs.

But three popular Christian artists have made headlines, both inside and outside of the Christian community, for sharing their experiences and facing criticism…from other Christians.

What do you do when your own community turns against you?

Let’s take a closer look.

Lecrae

Christian rapper Lecrae has enjoyed growing popularity in both Christian and mainstream circles, especially with the success of his 2014 album “Anomaly”.

Lecrae has also been very outspoken about how racism still plays a major role in our society. For example, he has shared his own experiences, good and bad, with police officers and law enforcement.

By doing this, he came face-to-face with the mainstream Evangelical Christian community’s unique version of white fragility. White fragility, which refers to why some white people have difficulty discussing race and racism, can be found in all parts of our society, regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs.

However, white fragility often happens within the Christian community when a Christian (of any race) says racism is still a problem. Such comments are often followed by some other Christians quickly discouraging that person from discussing race issues, with well-meaning but empty comments such as “We’re all God’s children” or “There is no Jew or Gentile”.

These statements sound nice, but they show no interest in addressing a real problem that affects a lot people’s daily lives.

Lecrae was hurt by those who criticized him for discussing racism. He thought about quitting and leaving the music industry

Instead, he chose to create more music.

 

The Takeaway: Write anyway. Do not let criticism stop you from using your talent.

People will disagree with you. But there are plenty of other people who are going through similar experiences and need to hear and see that someone like them isn’t just existing, but is thriving in their honesty. Seeing that empowers other people to share their stories and experiences.

Sharing your voice can turn a vicious cycle of doubt into a victorious cycle of acceptance.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant was THE Christian contemporary singer during the 1980’s. She was referred to as the Michael Jackson of mainstream Christian music. Today, she’s still a popular Christian musician.

However, LifeWay Christian Resources, a major Christian retailer, has decided not to carry Amy’s newest album in their stores.

Why? Is Amy now part of another religion? Is she an atheist?

Nope.

She’s just a lady who sang about how sometimes, people feel lonely during the Christmas season. Sometimes people, even some Christians, spend more than a few minutes during December not thinking about Jesus’ birth and instead thinking about how they miss a person or miss the people they love.

Blasphemy, I tell you!

It’s sad that LifeWay decided not to support Amy, a popular Christian artist, just because some of her songs, such as “Melancholy Christmas” on her new “Tennessee Christmas” album do not overtly mention Jesus himself, and focus on experiences that make us human, such as loneliness.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant

The Takeaway: Sometimes, people will build you up and then try to bring you down.

Be like Amy. Graciously accept it when some people walk away from you. And publicly thank those who are still supporting you, which is what Amy did with a recent post on her Facebook page.

Having a large fan base is not always the same as having a community of supporters who genuinely care for you.

There’s a major difference between fans and supporters.

Fans are nice, but they might reject you when you no longer fit neatly into their narrow view of who they think you should be.

Supporters will not punish you for being honest about sharing your own and other people’s experiences, dreams and fears.

Jen Hatmaker

And then there’s Jen Hatmaker. She’s dealing with a lot criticism and controversy recently, after discussing her support of gay marriages during her interview with Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt.

Jen built a successful career by sharing her experiences as a Christian wife, and mom of five kids. Her brand of being relatable is reflected in her books, speaking engagements, and an HGTV show.

Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker

But now that Jen has shown support for gay marriages, LifeWay stores (remember them, who I mentioned earlier?) has pulled her books and other items off their shelves. Many Christians, leaders and lay people alike, have made public statements disagreeing with Jen. Some Christian leaders have also announced that they will not participate in any conferences or other public events where Jen is speaking or participating in.

That’s intense.

How do you deal with intense criticism?

The Takeaway: Love your neighbors and your enemies.

Your writing might help you connect with and relate to a group of “outsiders”, who are an important part of your community of readers.

But remember, “outsiders” are called that word for a reason. That reason is, whether it’s justified or not (Hint: It’s usually not.), there are some people who do not like them and don’t want to be associated with them.

Do not let criticism chase you away and cause you to be yet another person who has bailed on this group.

It’s okay to disagree with each other. But we all deserve love and respect, especially those who are outsiders, because they don’t get these things from our society.

At the same time, love and respect those who disagree with you. That’s what Jen did.

“I hold those of you who are angry or shocked or confused with me this week very tenderly, too. I love you…” she said in a recent post on her Facebook page, where she responded to criticism about her views on gay marriage and other issues.

So, there you have it. Criticism sucks.

It’s okay to be angry, sad, frustrated and disappointed by it.

But don’t let criticism define you or turn you into someone you, or your true supporters, no longer recognize.

Be gracious when some fans stop reading your work. And show appreciation for those who continue supporting you and your work. And above all else…

Keep writing!

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Did this post inspire and help you? How do you deal with criticism? What’s the worst, funniest or most constructive critisicm you’ve received? Share your thoughts and tips with other writers in the comments section.

 

5 Replies

  1. Margaret Daway

    Great article. I’m just writing my first blog and this is a good reminder. Stephen Cover said to begin with the end in mind. Your blog has made me face the other side of the coin where we face hurts, criticism and suffering as we make a stand for Christ and on the other side the promise of a glorious church when He comes. Ephesians 5:27. 1 Peter 4:12-13. Romans 8:18

    1. Maya Spikes

      Thanks, Margaret! I’m glad this post helped. Good luck with your blog and please feel free to keep me posted about your blog.

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