I don’t love to be criticized or critiqued. I must admit, I don’t love “input.”
I think this goes back to my Intro to Design class in college. One day Dr. Grinchwold (named changed) walked past my desk, looked disdainfully at my project, a 3-dimensional paper fly (which was brilliant, by the way), and muttered something. “Excuse me, what did you say?” I asked. To which he replied for the whole class to hear, “I said, ‘Do you have a match?’ Because you should burn that thing.” I was stunned, mortified and humiliated. I wanted to say, “If I had a match I’d light your pants on fire,” but I didn’t.
Or maybe it goes back to when I was a teenager and my Dad criticized my taste in music – “Sounds like somebody pounding on a bunch of pots and pans!” Tactful. He actually came to like a few of the Beatles’ songs years later. But his comments didn’t cause me to listen to more of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
My wife is very encouraging, but graciously confronts me about my sin at times. (There’s a lot more she could confront me about but doesn’t). After all these years I still don’t love to be corrected. My initial instinct when she asks, “Can we talk about something?” is to want to say, “Didn’t we just talk about something 12 years ago when the kids were little?” But I always don my teachable face and say, “Sure, honey” while thinking on the inside, “Now what? Can’t you just let me watch ‘My Strange Paranormal Wedding Storage Unit’ in peace?”
And after 31 years as a pastor, though I should be used to feedback, I still squirm when told my opening preaching illustration was lame or my counsel didn’t part the clouds and cause angels to sing. I want to be like the pastor in “The Andy Griffith Show” and stand outside my church every Sunday, shaking people’s hands as they leave and they say, “Wonderful message, pastor!” And I reply, “Why thank you, Bee. You take care of Andy and Opie this week, y’hear?”
David actually prayed for God to people to correct him.
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it. (Psalm 141:5)
I don’t remember the last time I asked God to send people to rebuke me. But if David prayed for it, it must be good.
So how should we receive criticism? Here are 5 suggestions:
-If it comes from a believer, view it as a kindness – oil for your head – an act of love. Ask God to help you receive it and not refuse it. Or start openly crying, which is embarrassing. Be a man – be like David – “Let a righteous man strike me; it is a kindness.”
–Make it easy for people to bring stuff to you. It’s not easy to talk to someone about their sin or weakness. Thank them and assure them you’re glad they’d share with you. (And pray that you really would be glad!) Then you can hit the trapdoor button to drop them into the cellar.
–Remember you’re a sinner. Hate to break it to you, but you will actually blow it from time to time. Last I checked, none of us have been completely sanctified yet. Except for my sister, who I think may have sinned once in her entire lifetime. But the rest of us will sin. We’ll blow it. We don’t do everything perfect. And even if I’m criticized unjustly for something, there’s plenty of other things I should be criticized and judged for, but won’t be, for Jesus paid for all my sins and failures.
–There’s almost always some truth in every criticism, even if it’s inaccurate or given poorly. There may still be something valuable for you to learn. There’s some reason they are perceiving things this way. Though Professor Grinchwold did humiliate me, my 3-d fly was kind of dumb.
– Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Assume people see things you can’t. We all have blind spots. There could be something you’re missing.
Now if you need to give someone criticism today, try to find a tactful way to put it. Try to be gentle and kind. For example if you’re critiquing a blog post like this one you might say, “Got a match?”
To be continued…