No one I know likes criticism. I believe that criticism is a misunderstood concept, almost always seen in the negative light. I see criticism more as an observation, an analysis, or a discernment.

Athletes never perform to their peak ability unless they respond humbly to the critique delivered by the coach. The coach analyzes every move and helps the athlete to improve his or her performance. Sometimes the coach has to give tough love. He knows the potential of the athlete and incites him to respond positively to the criticism. He has the athlete’s best interest at heart. The athlete can chose to see what the coach does as criticism, or as encouragement, or as motivation. The coach is doing his job and helping to turn him into a top notch athlete.

In the same way, we should not be so thin-skinned that every little input into our lives is seen as negative. In my Christian walk I have been very grateful to God for those very few people in my life who were not afraid to level a word of criticism. Sometimes we become so tolerant and uncritical of the way we ourselves behave and respond that it requires someone who cares to give us a cuff upside the head.

When the criticism was first given I was hurt, insecure, even defensive. That’s probably why people didn’t dare say anything. But some dared to love me despite my wrong responses. After receiving the criticism, however, and thinking it over, I was diligently gleaning from it the truth that needed to be applied to my life. When I finally learned to open myself up to hear the criticism, especially from those who had proven to me that they actually cared and loved me, I was able to start growing.

None of us should be above criticism; even pastors require that some times. As a young pastor’s wife in leadership I received my share. One lady in particular seemed to be the self-appointed critic, leader of the opposition. She had the highest respect for me as I found out through other people, but always made sure that I knew I wasn’t the cat’s meow! God allowed her to do that so I would grow. Not that I have achieved it, mind you. I’m not done yet. I'm still a work in progress. Years later, she was most grateful to me when her husband was admitted to the nursing home where I worked and she found me to be very supportive of her in her time of need. Yes, and I even thanked her for the valuable part she played in my life.

That kind of response was only wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit. In my own strength I could not have done that. Thanks be to God.


I'd lost my faith in all mankind!
People had disappointed me,
They’d let me down, they'd criticized,
They’d used me too! I'd realized
The only one in whom I still had faith, was me.

Yet as I pondered my position
Paid rapt attention to my pain,
I realized with a sudden jolt
I'd really been an awful dolt,
Even I could not be trusted, to have this faith in me.

I was no better than the ones
In whom I thought I could believe.
I, too, was of the human race,
Was one who God saved by HIS grace.
And now my faith rests only on the ONE who rescued me.

Karin Ristau


NCmountainwoman said...

Good post with many things to ponder.

George said...

This is a wonderful, thoughtful post. I definitely don't enjoy getting criticism, but it is, and has been, necessary for me to grow, as a husband, father and person. Without criticism we would be satisfied with the way things are in ourselves and in the world.
I like the poem very much.

Karen said...

Well done, Karin! Very good lesson here...

chezzy louise said...

nice post! criticism is one of those things that can always make you a stronger and better person (if it's taken the right way, as you said)

Karen said...

This was a really good post, Karin.

The Old Geezer said...

I've noticed there are two kinds of critics. One
criticizes to destroy, hurt and tear down. And the other gives constructive criticism to help, protect and build up. May God give us the discernment to recognize the difference.

Wendy said...

I agree with the Old Geezer.
Sending hugs

Anneliese said...

Great thoughts here, Karin! It rmeinds me of how God disciplines those He loves. We all find criticism hard.. but if we can learn from it, it's a good thing, This takes a lot of grace.. in how it's given as well as how it's received. Thank you.

Linda said...

All of this is so true Karin. And I loved your poem..The Faith Lift!

Love, Linda

Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life said...

Haven't been for a while.... trying to make the rounds with all my blogging kindreds and friends.

So glad I stopped by today.... enjoyed your posting.... loved the Faith Lift poem!

Hope you're enjoying the summer. It's supposed to be really warm this weekend. Yippee!


Ann said...

In my school, we teach respect, and I try not to criticise the kids in front of their peers, unless, it is a lesson everyone learns from it.

Doris Sturm said...

There is a time and a place for everything - small children should not be criticized in excess or else they'll grow up insecure - I know my dad meant well and wanted to teach me - and he did, but I felt I could never please him and to this day, deal with that emotion!

I know there's a fine line between teaching or correcting someone and criticizing, so it's always important to remember who you are addressing because young people have tender feelings...and so do animals!

Glenda said...

Even though it's difficult for me to receive criticism, I want to maintain a teachable spirit. And as you said, we can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit. I know that I haven't "arrived" in this area! "He's still working on me ..."