Emily Freeman on Criticism


I’m working my way through Emily P. Freeman’s A Million Little Ways, and found her thoughts on criticism to be helpful. Perhaps you will, too.

“No matter if the critic intends to be hurtful or helpful, I’ve found in my own life that I have to handle all types of criticism in the same way: remember who I am, remember who God is, and remember not to take my work too seriously.”

“What if I began to believe that the critique isn’t just an unwelcome part of the art-making process but might actually make the art better?”

“The critic points out my weaknesses, but he also forces me to draw a circle around what I believe.”

“There, in the clenched hand of the critic is a gift he may not realize he’s giving you, one you don’t recognize at first. But there it is, the gift of your own smallness, your own Yes, I am a mess. Yes, I want your approval and agreement. Yes, I want to be loved and admired. Yes, I want to be right. The critic’s words point out my insecurities – but in seeing those, he shows me myself. When I finally see myself, I can be laid open before God. In the opening, I see the root of this desire for approval is less about the critic and more about me. “

“The voice of the critic forces us to face our biggest fears and, in so doing, listen for the voice of God.”

“If I’m brave enough to admit what it is I really fear, I will eventually be brought down to my knees no matter what they say.”

“Fear drives out the love. When you work from fear, there is no love in your work. And we don’t want your loveless art.”

How we respond when confronted with the critics has the potential to be the most beautiful art we’ll ever make – we have the capacity to reflect the relational glory of God no matter who we’re with, what we’re doing, or what’s gone wrong.

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