It’s So Much Easier To Criticize!

Admit it: it’s so much easier to criticize people than encourage people. There’s just so much fodder for criticism! We’re all sinners, and we regularly sin against one another. Every day we sin against our families, coworkers, friends, etc. And then there are those annoying habits we all have. Your husband can’t seem to remember to put his towel away after he takes a shower (guilty!). Your wife is a chronic key loser. Your kids are constantly breaking your valuable stuff. And the guy in the cubicle next to you is constantly clearing his sinuses in a loud, wood chipper-like, fashion. Because we are constantly interacting with frail, human, silly sinners, it’s so easy to be a constant critic.

Because it is so easy to criticize, we must take extra effort to encourage, build up, and affirm other believers (I’m preaching to myself here). We must go the extra mile to encourage and refresh others. We must work hard to overwhelm our relationships with encouragement. If our relationships become overrun with criticism they can quickly become unfruitful. In his helpful book, Practicing Affirmation, Sam Crabtree says:

But without affirmation, well-fed, well-inoculated, well-instructed children [or friends, spouses, coworkers, etc.] may tune out their parents and their well-intended instruction—especially their instruction.

In other words, if our relationships are lacking encouragement, it doesn’t matter how much we speak the truth, it won’t be received. If our kids don’t feel our love and encouragement they probably won’t hear our biblical correction and instruction. If our spouse doesn’t hear encouragement from us the relationship will take on a sour flavor. Again, Sam Crabtree says:

Generally, new relationships are still predominately affirming, but as relationships endure the years, they also endure a lot of correction. More specifically, affirmation didn’t keep up. Not enough affirmation was dished out compared with all the other messages in the relationship. A fire not stoked goes out…Proportionality matters when it comes to affirmation, for affirmation can be choked out by criticism, correction, or mere indifference and neglect.

It’s so easy for our relationships with others to be out of proportion when it comes to criticism and encouragement. They are full of criticism and correction and very lacking in encouragement. The result is that the relationship “goes out”. The fires of friendship grow dim. The romance of marriage disappears. The kinship of the parent/child relationship vanishes.

What is the flavor of your relationships? Is it criticism or encouragement? I gravitate toward criticism. I want to be like my friend Doug, who is constantly encouraging others.

Criticism is easy. Anyone can do it. It takes special grace to be an encourager. Ask God to help you grow in being an encourager.

  • Linda

    Thanks for encouraging me through criticism ! :o )

    • Stephen Altrogge

      You're welcome!!!

  • Josiah

    I agree with the main idea- that it is easier to criticize than encourage, and we should do more of the latter- but this post seems to miss the point that sometimes calling someone out on his/her behavior, when done in love, is sometimes more important than simply affirming them.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Hey Josiah,

      There is definitely a place for bringing someone's attention to their sinful behavior. But the point of this post was that if criticism dominates our relationships with others, they will tune us out. They won't listen when we point out their sin, because it will simply one more criticism in a long line of them. So I agree that we need to bring correction when necessary, but would also say that correction shouldn't be the dominant flavor of our relationships.

  • Linda

    Wow…this could not have come at a better time for me! I have been convicted lately of my overall lack of contentment and how much I complaining I do. My complaining often takes the form of criticism, which only feeds the discontentedness. Although I work next to quite possibly the most annoying person on the planet, I do NOT have to run to my coworkers to complain about her every time she violates how I think coworkers should act. I have been praying daily for grace and mercy, as well as acceptance for what I have, where I am, what I do, and do less complaining/criticizing and more affirming and edifying.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      I'm glad it was helpful Linda! You're right that discontentedness often manifests through criticism.

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  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this, I have a friend who has been very critical and nagging of everything I do. I'm not sinning, if I was it wouldn't be nagging…but she continues to nag everything and find fault in everything that anyone does. I used to just brush it off, but lately she has made up things to be critical about and it is downright hurtful. I shared this on my page, hoping she would get a clue. When I have tried to talk to her about it, she nags me that I don't know anything because I am unmarried. Very frustrating. So thank you!

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