Thursday, February 5th

“My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”  Proverbs 2:11-12


George didn’t like it when he left his supervisor’s office after his annual performance review.  He didn’t like to hear about the times when he had fudged on keeping his office hours, the times he had been late in producing the work for which he was responsible or the reminder that his chronic complaints about working conditions was undermining his relationships with his co-workers.  Few people enjoy hearing criticism.  But for some reason, that day, George hadn’t reacted defensively or negatively.  For some reason, that day, George was open-minded enough to hear the ring of truth.


Behind some destructive criticism there is a kernel of truth.  Behind all constructive criticism there is love.


The clearest indicator of constructive criticism is mission-motivated truth.  When someone takes the time to call us to account, to offer constructive criticism aimed at improving our ability to “deliver the goods of our mission” – to grow as a person, as an employee, as a friend, as a Christian – we need to develop the ability to listen and truly hear.


This begins with an expectation, an openness, to growth.  We are not there yet.  For now, we see reality in a mirror dimly.  Life is a journey; God uses those with whom we walk this journey as catalysts for growth. Every other person in our life can potentially be our teachers.


If we quickly dismiss anything we hear that we don’t like to hear, we lose the opportunity to grow.  We get stuck in our thinking.  We lose perspective on the infinite number of possibilities before us.  We put false limitations on what God can do with us and through us.


When criticism comes, ask yourself these questions: “Is there any portion of truth in it?”  “Is there any lesson here that God wants me to learn?”  If you satisfy yourself that there is no truth to a criticism, shake the dust from your feet and move on.  But if there is a lesson to be learned, learn it.  Our critics can sometimes be our best sources of insight into our blind spots.


Let us pray: Dear Lord, you will never give up on us.  May we always be open to the discipline you send our way, knowing always that you seek nothing but our growth.  We pray especially for the wisdom to discern the lessons you would have us learn through the constructive criticism of those who care about us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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