Criticism

READ IT OUT LOUD FIRST

Please read that out-loud to me.

That is a request one pastor makes when people send him an email of criticism or correction. He adds that he wants to make sure he gets the “right tone and emphasis intended”.

Face-to-face communication is usually best, especially when there is critique involved. This was true of handwritten letters and it is even more true with email, and it’s quadruply (not a word, but you get the idea) true for social media responses.

There are two big challenges to communication at a distance:

1.  Our communication may not express the care and respect that was in our heart. A single word can create unintended negativity

2.  Our communication may use abrupt or harsh of language that we would have the sense not to use face to face.

Part of Great Commandment living is to love our neighbor as our self. This requires that we express love in every communication. Remember communication includes not only what we intend to convey, it equally involves how the other person receives it.

Here is some wisdom for electronic communication:

Try not to communicate in the emotion of the moment

Give time before you respond to what others have written to you

Read it aloud to yourself first

Ask yourself, if you would say this face-to-face

Would you say this if someone you respect was there to listen?

Does this communication have the agenda of the gospel in it?

Does this even need to be said?

And if you must respond in a corrective way:

Be prayerful

Be humble

Ask someone else to read it first

Include some form of encouragement

Soften the language as much as possible

Seek clarification, in case you misunderstood them!

Try to present your correction in the form of a question. This helps the other person think about your concern themselves.

You can read the article that inspired this post here.

IT MAY BE WHAT YOU THINK, BUT IS IT NECESSARY?

I have been corrected (rightly so) for sins I have committed.

I have been corrected (rightly so) for careless words or actions that were unintended.

I have also been criticized to my face (and more often behind my back), for actions that were treated as sins, when in reality, my critic simply had a different opinion.

I have been criticized in people’s hearts and to others (without me being present) for reasons that were misinformed, misunderstood, or simply arrived upon by speculation.

None of these situations were pleasant.

Some of these situations were necessary.

But many of these situations were unbiblical.

If there is any lesson we should learn from the aftermath of the recent Presidential Election, it is that there are bad ways to express our disagreement and our disappointment.

As people of the gospel, Christians should have a clear grasp of what is an appropriate expression of disagreement, and what is an inappropriate – or even sinful outflowing of our heart.

What are the guidelines to how you express your disagreement?

Are you careful to make sure you came by your opinions and attitudes by a biblical process?

Has it occurred to you that holding negative opinions about people without valid information is slanderous? Even if you have not spread your opinion, you have slandered that person in your heart.

The famous “Love” passage in 1 Corinthians 13 ends with this description of how love acts:

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

It would be worth spending a few minutes to consider how this declaration about love should affect the way we think about other people. The Bible is not telling us to ignore the truth about people, but it is instructing us to think the best we can about them. This is “Treating people the way you want to be treated 101″

Accountability is good for the soul, but so is being gracious

For more thoughts on “confrontation”, read this excellent article by Tim Challies as he describes an incident when someone aggressively confronted him after a speaking engagement.

 

DRUNK WOMEN SHOULD NOT JUDGE BASEBALL

Stephen Altrogge shared an experience on his blog that he had watching a couple tipsy middle-aged women yelling complaints against players during a Phillies vs Pirates game.

As Stephen points out, neither of the woman likely had much experience themselves in being baseball players, yet they didn’t hesitate to mock the best players in the world, because those athletes didn’t perform according to their expectations.

It is an interesting article that becomes a TERRIFIC article, when Stephen makes this application to the women’s behavior .

5 KINDS OF CRITICS IN THE CHURCH

We live in a world where many things do not go as planned or as they should. I know that my own efforts have been frequently marked by mistakes, sins, failures and ignorance.

As a general rule not many of us enjoy having someone else point out these realities. Yet it is important that we cultivate an openness to criticism. Without it we will never grow as much as we could. There are simply too many things we do not recognize clearly on our own.

Part of being serious about growing as a believer and serving God with increasing effectiveness is our willingness to receive correction whether or not it is properly given. I have found that a desire to love God more is the best help to having a healthy attitude about correction. As we ask God to help us to have the humility and love for Him that creates good soil for receiving correction, we will see God working ever deeper in our character and in our ministry.

Since we are on the topic of receiving criticism, we might as well include giving criticism.  As much as we struggle to receive correction, we may be even worse at giving it. Much of the criticism we hand out is unnecessary, and much that is necessary is done with poor timing, tone and motives.

Thom Rainer of Lifeway Christian Resources wrote an informative article for his blog entitled “Five types of critics in the church”. As you read it here, consider how you can be more care in how you give correction AND how you can be more open to receiving it.