Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We continue in this part with the topic of criticism—why criticise and how do you handle criticism. In Part 2 we started looking at some of the reasons people criticise. In this part we look at the rest of those reasons.
2 – Some people criticise because they don’t know the whole story.
The critical person refuses to see life from any perspective, other than his own. I heard about a missionary that had translated the Bible into the Lisu language—that’s a language spoken in south-west China and northern Myanmar—and he taught one of the local natives how to read. As the missionary left to go on holidays—on furlough as it’s called—he instructed that native to take the Bible and teach others how to read. When the missionary returned he was shocked at what he discovered.
The native was teaching three other people to read. His method was to place the Bible on a table and tell the other three what the words were. But, because each man always sat at the same spot around the table they each learned to read from their own perspective:
- The one on the left learned to read left to right.
- The one on the right learned to read right to left.
- The one across the table learned to read upside down.
A teenage boy and girl were arguing in class at school. Each was vigorously defending their point of view on the subject in question. The teacher, realising an opportunity to teach a ‘life lesson’ instructed the boy to go to one side of the room and the girl to the other. The teacher carefully took out a ball and placed it on his desk.
He asked the boy what colour it was. The boy replied, “Black.” The girl immediately replied, “Well that’s stupid. Everybody in this room can see that it’s white!” The teacher told them to swap sides of the room and tell him what colour the ball was. Sheepishly, the girl replied, “It’s black.” The boy retorted, “No it’s not. It’s white!” Actually, the ball was half black and half white—the answer was dependent on their point of view!
Sometimes we criticise because we only see the picture from our point of view!
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3 – Some people criticise because it makes them feel better about themselves.
The critic usually has a terrible self-image. Continual complaining is usually a sign of low self-esteem. The person that has the low self-image feels vindicated if they can pull somebody that they are intimidated by, down to their level. The only way they can get them to their level is to try and destroy them. This is usually done by assassinating their character and slandering their reputation.
Saul and David from the Bible are a good example of this. Saul was the king but he had this huge inferiority complex. He got mad because after one of the battles the women sang that Saul had killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands. Saul was son angry that he threw a spear at David and tried to pin him to the wall.
Instead of living for God as he should, Saul became obsessed with destroying David, and spent the rest of his life attempting to destroy him. Saul missed so much of the joy of living because of this obsession! He reasoned that the only way he could be vindicated was to destroy David. We never vindicate ourselves by destroying somebody else—we vindicate ourselves by doing God’s work together! What a lesson for the church. We should work together, not against each other.
Having said that, it’s a wise thing to find the grain of truth in the criticism. If you are criticised, many times a grain of truth is found in what the critic is saying! We might not like it; it might not be pleasant but when we are criticised, we can use the critics to our advantage.
When Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was about to implement a plan, he showed it to his greatest critics. They, of course, usually tore it apart, explaining that it would never work. When asked why he ‘wasted his time’ allowing critics to review his plan instead of planning with a group of strategists that were sympathetic to his plan, he replied, “Because my critics help me find the weaknesses in the plan so I can correct them!”
Don’t be upset by all criticism—you can learn from it very often. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man/woman listens to advice”.
(To be continued in Criticism Hurts – Part 4)