It is hard to accept criticism.
I think the primary reason is pride. I also think our current world where image means so much and people (myself included) attempt to cultivate their desired image via social media, etc., only feeds that pride and makes it an even greater temptation.
True. Sometimes the criticism is offered with less than altruistic motives. Does that give me the right to not listen, just because the person spoke at least partial truth to me with less than honorable, purely unselfish motives? Ideally, that wouldn't be the situation, but in reality, it is - probably as often as not. So, do I discard those words without personal reflection because I'm disgruntled by the one (or his/her manner) who offered them?
Then, sometimes criticism it is just offered.
What do I mean by that?
Let me explain, for I'm often guilty as charged.
The other day I "criticized" someone in my family, not upset, not angry... just observing something done without reflection that could have been done better and simply hoping to teach a better way. I asked who had put the salad we'd eaten for dinner away in the fridge, without an appropriate cover for the bowl. Said person owned up right away. I replied that the salad needed to be transferred to a better container and the lid put on, or all of the lettuce would wilt.
Said person, I think, was both a little hurt and mildly offended. After all, said person had taken the initiative to help me with dinner clean-up and all I did was criticize.
True - I could have "done" the criticism better. Actually - no excuses - I should have.
But I wasn't thinking of it as criticism. I was thinking of it as teaching (and that teaching should have been done better, as well). I'm a teacher and a mom of eight. Teaching comes very naturally to me, almost as naturally as breathing. So when I saw something that should have been done differently, could have been done better, the teacher in me spoke up.
When others are criticizing me or something I've done, why can't I look at it more like that. More like someone is giving of their time to teach me, to help me become better and put myself into the position of being teachable?
I've recently spent some time reflecting on criticism and what the Bible has to offer on the subject. I think I'll finish with some of those thoughts:
- Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. (Psalm 141:5)
- Teach me, and I will keep quiet. Show me what I have done wrong. (Job 6:24)
- If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. (Proverbs 15:32)
- People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. (Proverbs 10:17)
- Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
- The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. (Proverbs 27:9)
- Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (Proverbs 29:1)