Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why I love to be criticized

Why I love to be criticized

Now I know you saw the title of this article and it hooked you, or you know me and know the exact opposite to be true.  I hate criticism, of course we all do, but for me I’d rather be punched over and over in the face, then be criticized.  You take my personality and pair it with my experiences, throw in my extreme desire to be liked by everyone and my childhood and you have someone who runs kicking and screaming from criticism.

To give you an example, if someone were to come up to me and say, “Lance your sermon on Sunday was a bit dry and boring”, I hear, “Lance I really can’t stand your preaching or anything else about you”.  Okay so that may be a bit of an exaggeration but unfortunately I tend to take everything personally and whether it’s about me as a preacher or a minister or a father or husband or anything else, it’s a devastating blow to my psyche and just one more hit to my low self-esteem and self worth.

So what’s my point?  On my own I can’t handle criticism but I learned something recently that has made a huge impact in my life.  Criticism when paired with one key word is vital to my growth as a person, a Christian, a leader, a father, husband and so on.  The word is evaluation.  When I am able to evaluate the criticism, myself, even the person offering the criticism (without judging them) everything changes.

A Holy Spirit driven evaluation takes the sizzle out of the criticism.  It softens the blow so that I can allow God to control me, the situation, and my reaction to the situation.  I can observe the criticism to find any truth that is in it to make me a better person.  I can observe myself to see whether this is a sign of a character flaw or a sin that needs to be repented of.  And I can observe the one doing the criticism.  Rather than immediately being defensive and angry, what if I took the time to evaluate where they are coming from.  It’s possible that not only could I get some insight into why they are offering the criticism but it might even help me to help them in the future in some way.

But here is the number one reason that criticism combined with evaluation is so effective.  It draws me closer to Jesus.  He was criticized, He was abused, mocked, spit on, and attacked both physically and verbally.  His response is shocking to someone like me.  His evaluation led Him to forgive those who hurled abuse at Him, to feel compassion for the bystanders, to be silent when falsely criticized and accused, and to ultimately die on a cross for them, for me, and for you. 
Why did He respond like this? How did He manage to react this way?  Simple; His eyes were on the big picture.  This is why I love to be criticized.  Because when I combine it with evaluation it leads me to Jesus, fix my eyes on Him (Heb. 12:2), to be more like Him, and to have a stronger relationship with Him.  And that is what it’s all about.