Ps 19:12-13 – “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. 13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.” NASU
In dealing with “negative criticism” and the “blind spot” that our reaction can reveal I suggest that you always ask yourself, “What was or is the attitude of the person delivering the criticism?” That plays a significant role in how I handle their criticism or critique of my life. If their criticism was in a spirit of meekness and demonstrated a heart that desired to see restoration and growth, I take it to heart. They may be correct and may be incorrect, but their attitude and spirit play, a major role in my response. If they gave it in haughty judgmental spirit, I usually have more resistance. That can be a problem and if I allow their spirit and attitude to deter me in considering the complaint I may miss something God is trying to speak to my heart. My learned approach has become, regardless of the attitude of the one issuing the criticism or critique, I ask myself and the Holy Spirit, “Is what they are saying accurate?” If it is, then regardless of their attitude I receive it as being from the Lord and seek to make the necessary corrections. I do not change based on every criticism but on those that the Holy Spirit opens my heart, mind, and eyes to recognize as being true and from Him.
The problem for most of us is that it is very difficult to receive negative criticism and acknowledge the truth that criticism is based upon. We must all learn to allow the Holy Spirit to place the spotlight of God’s love, mercy, grace, and word upon our lives and bring to light all things that are hidden. I sometimes, seek out trusted friends, people that I know will tell me the truth and share the criticism with them. If they confirm the validity of that flaw, I take it to the Lord in serious and earnest prayer and ask for help in making the needed corrections. Once I have dealt with the criticism it is important to ask God to make you free of the potential condemnation that can often be associated with the criticism. Do not make it you but roll it onto the Lord and receive your freedom.
On the other side of the coin is “How well do you receive cooperation, respect, and the confidence of others placed in you?” Another way of asking that is, “How do you receive compliments and accolades?” If it puffs you up that is revealing of a flaw that has the potential to shipwreck your ministry and testimony. I have counseled parents regarding the seeming disrespect their children have for them. I have said more than once, “Your children, in a very real sense, are saying to you, ‘I will respect you and have confidence in you, if and when I see you have integrity.” If you demonstrate a lack of integrity, you are asking your children to respect what you teach them to avoid. That is hypocritical and unfair to them. Integrity means being willing to stand for and stand in your principles even when it is not easy to do so. It means being willing to tell your children you are sorry when you have done wrong and allow them to see in you a spirit of repentance. It means that you are the same person at home as you are in church and everywhere else. I have found that when I win the respect and confidence of others they will generally do what I ask because they trust me or trust God in me and they want to cooperate and participate.
Another question is, “Can you discipline without an overt show of authority?” I’ve heard parents tell their children, “Do it because I said to do it.” I do not have a major problem with that exercise of authority but realize that sometimes, had they explained the why, the dangers, the ramifications it would have had a more lasting positive impact. Just being in a position of authority does not mean you will automatically have the respect of those you have authority over. Nor does it mean they will automatically be obedient because obedience is the result of fear or respect. Most people can receive criticism from a person who has demonstrated the ability and willingness to encourage. They realize that the criticism is designed to benefit not berate. Demanding that people obey because you are in charge is a demonstration of weakness rather than strength and suggests emotional insecurity and feelings of inferiority.
As believers, we are to be Peacemakers! Being a Peacemaker is to act like a Child of God. Why do I say that? Because it is very unnatural for us to want to bring peace when we have been attacked. We want (at least secretly) a pound of flesh! Peter demonstrated this problem in his question to Jesus about forgiveness. He asked, “LORD, how often should I forgive? Would seven times be sufficient?” Jesus’ response was not a numeric specific but a revealing of the need to forgive and forgive and forgive without number. Many discussions lead to arguments and create far more heat than light. Most people have something inside them that drives them to prove they are right, at all costs! When a discussion degenerates into an emotional confrontation, somebody has to stop! The one who has to have the last word is the most insecure and certain “blind spot” in that area.
I believe that most people will change their views when they see living proof of a better way! Therefore, it is important that we share by deed not just by word. It is important that we seek to persuade through action, not just verbalizations. It is imperative that we lead by example not do as I say. We must become those who pour oil on wounds and seek to calm troubled waters. Love truly covers a multitude of sins!
God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!