Constructive Criticism


Constructive Criticism

5 Bible verses

Luke 17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

Proverbs 15:31-32 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 4:7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Romans 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Matthew 7:1,12 Judge not, that you be not judgedSo whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

I am not one for horoscopes, but then again the Magi in Matthew 2 were people who followed the stars… I have been repeatedly told I am a typical Libra. What is a Libra?

For the Libra the world of ideas is very important. Learning, conversing and getting many points of view is important to Libra. Libras have the ability to see two sides to an argument, sometimes many sides…

I confuse people, I am very hard on myself and offer self-criticism in a way that often draws people in to say “you are being too hard on yourself.” The true is I can see my flaws and don’t mind confessing them. It keeps me humble. At the same time I can see my strengths and virtues, I just don’t need anyone to verbalize them. Clergy get entirely too much of that. It can go to our heads. I don’t mind criticism and I don’t like praise BUT… When I am criticized I like to know the person offering the constructive critique knows the upside of my contribution. In other words I like to know that the other knows what s/he is talking about. I am always suspicious the praise or the criticism is more about the emotional state of the other, not me. If the person is in a good mood, I am great. If the person is in a cranky mood everything I do is wrong.

BUT if the person offering the constructive feedback is balanced then I have to consider the offering as authentic, wise and thoughtful. I listen.

I recall being asked to be in amateur theatre groups. The reality is I am no actor, I am a big show off. I frequently over act to get a response from the audience, I can never memorize lines, which throws off the other actors and I notoriously adlib to get a rise out of the audience and cast. In short I should never be in a serious play. I explained this to the director and producer of the play. They explained it was amateur theatre and the audience would love to know the Minister was in the play. The other actors enjoyed my contributions, the audience loved my performances (even though I have no real talent) and I got many, many people to attend, filling out the audience. BUT as time went by the plays got more challenging and the director and producer wanted me to be more serious. I was not cut out for that and offered to beg off. But they insisted I be in the cast.

I did not mind the criticism BUT where was the other side of the equation, the good feeling among the cast, the large and happy audiences and the fun everyone was clearly having? That was taken for granted, in short the director and the producer wanted all of my positives and none of my negatives.

I think all of us are willing to hear hard things about ourselves provided the other does see the positive. I try my best to follow the Golden Rule, I critique others as I would like to be critiqued, I affirm the positive and suggest there might be better ways to deal with the negative. Sometimes people take advantage of my laid back nature and self-criticism but I can usually put a halt to that with some hard talk of my own.

I believe when the Bible says not to judge it does so not to ban any form of criticism but rather to ensure we not be hypocrites. Jesus did not like hypocrites and said so, a lot! All of us judge but if we dare to offer judgment to others we had better be willing to be judged ourselves.

Here’s hoping we can all find that balance, finding affirmation and improvement all in the same conversation.