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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Receiving Criticism

The way I receive criticism tells more about me than I would like to admit. My first reaction is to defend myself. I get angry. I justify what I have done. I accuse the person who criticizes me. And all this happens whether or not this person is right in what he or she has said.

Of course, I also look for some nefarious reason for the criticism. I do this even if it is evident that the person is looking out for me. I guess the real problem is admitting that I was wrong in what I have done.

Now think of this: Shouldn't you carefully consider what someone says when that person has shown that he or she has had your best interests at heart? Why should it be so hard to come to that conclusion?

I guess humility doesn't come easily. Most people have whatever is easy to attain. Humility just isn't one of those things. Yet, you will often find humility when you look at those who have throughout their lives done great things. Napoleon was not humble but he also wasn't one who did great things throughout his life. Abraham Lincoln was humble and brought a nation through her darkest days. More people refer to Lincoln when speaking of great leadership than Napoleon.

So, the first reaction to criticism should be asking whether or not this person is attempting to keep your's or the organization's best interest at heart. This doesn't mean this person is wrong if he or she doesn't but it is a good indicator whether or not you should immediately listen.

Then, you should ask how this person came to this conclusion. One way to do this is to ask the critical person why he or she believes what you have just been told. Sometimes the answer may seem obvious but the question should still be asked. Of course, it may be that the person simply says, "I just feel this way." That is a valid answer for him but not so much for you.

A Christian must also consider whether or not others feel the same way. Too often a Christian leader can surround himself or herself with those who will always agree with any decision. Sometimes they do so because they like you or don't want to hurt your feelings. They may not understand that they aren't really supporting you when they allow you to do things that are hurtful to yourself.

Receving criticism takes a look into your own heart. That may be the hardest part. Why do you want to keep doing things like you have done? Do you already know it is wrong? What are you afraid of if you stopped doing what you have been doing? Have your emotions overruled your sense of right and wrong? Does the critical person have any suggestions how things should be done? Is the purpose to simply remove you from being able to make these decisions? Is this a person vendetta with a history?

All of these things go deep into the heart of the one being criticized. It can be very discouraging if you see this as a reflection on who you are rather than an event that can make you stronger and improve what you are doing.

Of course, I think that receiving criticism takes a lot of wisdom. That comes from the Lord simply by asking. (James 1:5)

Proverbs 15:31-33 (NIV) 31 He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. 32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. 33 The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.


Deb Willbefree said...

Ahhh. Humility. Sighhhh.

It's something the Lord's been nudging me about. Nudging is putting it kindly. :{

It has come as quite a surprise to me to discover that I am not...really not...humble. :o

You know, all I did was tell God that I wanted more r/t the Fruit of the Spirit. That's all. (Are you chuckling at my innocence about what was going to come next?)

I decided to start on "meek". I needed to be meek, to have a quiet and gentle spirit. blah, blah, blah. When I told my husband, he laughed right out loud. hmmph.

Seriously, it's been a bruising road. I had no idea what God was going to show me, about me.

As far as what you were talking about--taking criticism well. You pretty much covered it. :)

It occurs to me that you must deliver well-organized, to the point sermons that are chock full of meat for those who hear what the Spirit is saying.

Thanks for sharing some of that with us.

I really don't understand why more of your followers don't comment. Blogs are meant for back and forth; they're richer that way.

Ahh, well, maybe your followers are meek. :}


P.S. I've been off-line a bit with home remodeling. When I get the chance, I'll check back on the posts I've missed.

Gordon Eason said...

I've enjoys this thanks, GORDON

Gordon Eason said...


Gordon said...

Indeed humility is difficult to embrace; yes, Ps Prentis said it as ,"doesn't come easily". Despite his opening statements, I still are of the impression that Ps Prentis does have the much fortification for humility, and he is perhaps humble at more times than he is not.

Perhaps, the right way to view humility is not so much as, much humility or little of the same; one is either humble or he is not. Humility is not a thing, like it can be more or less, as such; it is a state and it is a reaction or action. When we say generally that a person is humble, without particular reference to an event, we are using it as a state.  So, when in Micah 6:8, where it was said that God expects us to walk humbly before Him, it is a state that is being referred to. As a state, like ice is the water in solid state, we can expect consistent actions and reactions from that state.  When water is ice or in the solid state, for example, we do not expect "flow" or "flowing"; for it is only in the liquid state, that water flows.  In other words, our reactions or actions tell on the state.  Just as from the state, we can expect the reaction or action; from the reactions or actions, we can know the state or that there has been a change of the state.  God expects us to be in a state of humility, which means we are to react or act humbly, always, consistent to the state.

When we say reaction or action, we start with that, of the heart; it starts there, in the heart; the heart reacts. For example, when a criticism against us is heard, the heart reacts, and then from there, comes visible reaction or action, like prideful speech or action by the facial expressions or hands, etc.  From these latter, other people could tell, and they conclude on our state - whether we are humble or not.  One observation, of course, does not necessarily mean that the humble state of the person has gone; but it is not uncommon, although it is not right, for many to jump to conclusion that, so-and-so, is not humble; we can mis-observe or mis-interpret, with a very small sample size or only a few occurrences.  This is because we cannot see the heart; and so, we can mistaken someone as being not humble when we have too few observations. But God is different; Scripture said that God knows the heart of man, and so, God cannot make mistake! said...

Cont. From above

So, what makes the heart react humbly or not humbly? Remember at the opening, I used the term fortification when I referred to Ps Prentis.  Without the much fortification, one is likely to react proudly rather than humbly. For example, without the fortification coming from truly acknowledging everything we have has come from the God, through His grace, it is hard for one to react humbly. Also, without the fortification coming from truly acknowledging how much God has loved us, despite our awfulness, it is hard for us to react humbly. Without fortification coming truly acknowledging the holiness of God, His mercy, grace, including grace of forgiving us, His all sufficiency and His all powerfulness and all wisdom, etc, we will find it hard to be reacting or acting humbly.  In other words, we must know and acknowledge who God is, what He has done for us, and what He will do for us; where we have come from - from being a creation of God, fallen away, and has returned, not by our effort that we can boast, but by the grace of God. Clearly, we need to catch it, that we are but dirt of the ground, now having life, all by His grace, and that is everyone of us; in the background, God had made possible, we, each, has a life.  We ought to be thankful and grateful.  When each of us truly realizes that none of us, is more deserving than another, for the life that we enjoy (despite some say, enduring!), we should realize we have no ground to be proud against another; and of course, cannot be proud before the Creator God.

So, when looking at humility, it is not that we can gather more humility like we gather a thing, like money. Rather, we need to be worked on by God, or refined by God or disciplined by God, with willingness on our part, so that we can have the fortifications such as some of those mentioned above, be built into us.

One check for humility, which we all can use on ourselves is this: Do I want no glory and take no glory for myself? We must not want to glorify ourselves, and we must not take the glory due God, despite some mistaken teaching concerning this, circulating in our community. We exist to glorify God, and Scripture is clear that God does not share His glory with another (men), at least not with men, in his mortal state. We get to share in the glory of God when we have passed on to go to Heavenly Kingdom.

Cont... said...

Cont. From above

I know many people will say, "If I don't glorify myself, I will be a nobody, thrust to the bottom, be trampled upon!" Now, if you glorify yourself, you will be self-centered, and not God-centered, and self-pride will rear it's ugly head, and Scripture said God opposes you.  So, you want God to be always opposing you, or you want Him to honor you, instead. When you are God-centered, it means you love God, and when you love God, God will honor you. I have just given us, one angle to explain "humility comes before honor".  Concentrate on being God-centered, on being loving God, and don't worry about the troubles, and the "be trampled upon". Psalm 91:14-15 revealed to us that for those who love God, not only He will be with them, rescue them, protect them, He will even honor them.

When we are God-centered, we necessarily also be others-centered, for when we love God, we necessarily love other people (our neighbors). Is there no sacrifice in love?  Of course, there is; in fact, a love that would not embrace sacrifice is no love.  Humility, in this respect, is like love; it embraces sacrifice, including the common letting go of our right, even right to be angry, right to be applauded, right to be patted on the back, be pinned with feather in the cap! One of the marks of a humble person is that he lets another look good, even when it could cause the lime-light to be cast away from him to the person; humble people are secure people. I see that in my retired Senior Pastor, and I see it in Ps Prentis - frankly speaking, how many people will allow my kind of comments through, here, time and time again. Thank you, Ps Prentis, for accommodating some of my indulgence. To me, you are humble, and secure.  May God honors you as you love Him, and honor and glorify Him. Amen.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions