I am going to be honest, I do not take well to criticism. I am an eager learner, I don’t mind being corrected when I am wrong. I value the opinions of others. I am a move forward, not back kind of girl. But, there are times when I can allow criticism to get under my skin. But, there is a difference between criticism and correction.Recently my husband informed me that I “don’t finish projects”. For those reading this, who know me personally, you are probably wondering if this man knows me at all! My husband was not correcting me or guiding me, he was being critical. I didn’t take kindly to it and I proceeded to remind him that he was the one who initiated our journey into Dave Ramsey living. If he would like me to finish our household projects, I’d be happy to… the moment he handed me a credit card or expanded my personal budget. (I was being very sarcastic, I really wouldn’t do that.) I wanted him to understand I was doing the best with what I was given, and he needed to be patient through our “cash only process”.
As I was reflecting on the confrontation I had with my friend (see last month’s devotion), I asked myself if I was being critical of her. Or, was my assessment of the situation accurate & correction was the right course. That is, after all, what correction is. We are helping someone who has taken a turn get back on course. In some cases it is an obvious sharp turn, and in others it has been a slow, gradual, drift. When I struggle with anything like this, I always turn to the Word. If I can figure out what God has to say about it, perhaps figuring out my next steps won’t be so hard. I also reached out to those I consider wise counsel.
As a result, I came to find that scripture not only tells us that we should correct our sisters in Christ, but we are also told how we should be responding to correction. In reading this, it not only confirmed for me that my friend was responding incorrectly, but also made me take at look at my own responses to correction (and criticism
Proverbs 19:20 Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well.
How do you respond when someone corrects you? Do you get defensive? Do you make excuses? Do you try and pass the buck & blame someone else? Or, do you try to justify your behavior in order to make it ok? When you read last weeks devotion, did you relate to it? Have you responded in the same way my friend did? Do you take it personally when a friend tries to encourage you to have a different perspective? Are you teachable?
This bit of advice was shared with me, just this past week:
“When someone gives you advice that you don’t want to hear, you should not react until you have:
1) prayed about it
2) compared the advice to Scripture
3) asked yourself, is it true?”
Being accountable to each other as friends is a two way street. We must be willing to not only give correction, but also receive it. If I speak in truth and love, then I should receive with love and humbleness. I need to embrace this person, who cared about me enough to call me out on my behavior, and help me realize what I was doing & become better for it.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Lord, I pray that you give me a mouth that speaks, when it is time to speak; and ears to listen, when it is time to listen. Help me to speak in YOUR truths, through MY love for my sisters in Christ. Let me received YOUR truth, through THEIR love for me. Protect our friendship from division, so that we may continue to encourage each other to be focused on YOU. Amen.