The secret of success will not be determined by the amount of criticism that you receive or don’t receive. It will be determined by the way you respond to criticisms. Situations in life become most devastating when we respond poorly to criticism and mishandle them. Small problems can destroy our hearts -- not just big ones.

If you do an Internet search, you can find some amazing stories about people who survived some overwhelming obstacles. James Crutch, who was one of 700 survivors on the Titanic, is one. Most of the other passengers died in the icy Atlantic waters. A few years passed and Crutch joined the Army. A war broke out and he was on the RMS Lusitania when it was hit by a German torpedo. However, Crutch survived this attack. How did he die? While crossing a creek located in the back of his house, he slipped, hit his head and drowned in less than a foot of water.

Another was James Berkeley. He was a famous safari hunter, who hunted dangerous lions and tigers. While in his backyard, his cat scratched him, causing blood poisoning, which contributed to his death a year later.

Another was the famous tightrope walker Charles Blondin, who stretched a cable across Niagara Falls. He even pushed a wheelbarrow filled with sand across the falls. How did he die? From complications of a fractured leg when he fell going into his house.

It is often the little things in life that, if we do not respond correctly, tend to pile up emotionally on us and can crush our hearts. You may know people who are struggling with life. They have overcome some amazing things and survived, but currently they are losing heart. They have lost perspective and grown inward on themselves, and it is painful to watch.

There is a great admonition in the Bible to “not lose heart. …” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Elsewhere, we are told to “guard our heart for all life springs from our hearts.” (Proverbs 4:23) No one can keep you from losing your heart and no one can guard your heart for you. It is up to you.

Your heart is like a water well, out of which flows peace and confidence. When someone is trying demean you or condemn you, it is like someone trying to fill your heart with rocks and dirt and keep your well from flowing.

You can either become discouraged by letting negativity into your heart and then dwell on it, or you can stand your ground, set boundaries and not let it change the person you are.

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What things are attempting to tear your heart down? Who is speaking into your life that should not have a voice? What falsehoods have you embraced about yourself that are causing you to lose heart?

Many of you have conquered some amazing difficulties in your life. Don’t allow a small bit of criticism or misunderstanding to undermine what God desires to build in you.

Not long ago, someone came to my church and began to tell me all the things I should be doing, the way I should teach and how I should lead. While I am open to input, their methods and ideals were not what God had called me to do. I will stay the course and keep my heart. I hope you do, too.