Now, there’s an oxymoron for you. Just like… an irreguler pattern; noisy silence; a serious joke; sweet sorrow; and military intelligence. Constructive criticism is right up there with the best of them. The problem with it is that both terms can’t be done at the same time…
Let’s look at the core words. To Construct means to make or form by combining or arranging parts or elements: to build. To Criticize means to find fault with.
You see, criticism, in whatever form you want to put it, doesn’t build but rather it tears down. The funny thing is that as I pay more attention to people, something has become evidently clear. The moment that you start to criticize a person, that is the moment that the person becomes defensive. We, by nature, don’t want to broken down or disassembled. Our first reaction is to fight. We may not physically put up our dukes but our subconscious recognizes the ‘attack’ and wants to defend itself.
Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain-and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” The Bible spoke of how the children of Israel extended their wilderness stay by decades because of murmuring and complaining. They criticized Moses for taken them out of captivity. Pause there… Here’s another oxymoron – Moses was a Freedom Fighter and the people criticized him for fighting for their freedom!!! Now those people were fools, according to Carnegie’s definition above!! The interesting thing about their journey was that because of their criticisms, condemnations and complainings it took 40 years to complete a weekend trip…
How many times has someone criticized you and they were surprised that you were offended? Exactly, too many times!! Criticism, no matter how you paint it, is a lack of discipline and self-control. Trust me, I’m not sitting in the ivory tower casting down judgments. I’m guilty as well!! It’s that feeling of “I gotta tell them” or “I can’t wait to let them know” or how about this one… “(in my snobbish voice) I won’t have done it that way. This is how you should have done it.” The first question that we should ask our critics is this… Who asked you?
A criticism is merely an opinion based on past events. Woulda, shoulda, coulda… has no bearing. The deeds have already been done and your critique doesn’t fix anything other than your ‘need’ to speak.
How do we fix it?
The Bible tells us to study to be quiet. Proverbs 15:1-2 says,” A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of fools pour out folly.” And the Bible says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “I will speak ill of no man …and speak all the good I know of everybody”.
When confronted with the actions of the southern people, Abraham Lincoln once replied: “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
And I think Mr. Lincoln’s statement is key. When we criticize, we are basically saying that we are above the situation and from MY view this is what YOU should do. Unfortunately, we don’t always do what we counsel to do.
Today’s assignment is to resist the urge to criticize. Truly build up one another in love and respect. The more that we do this, the easier it gets and the better we get at it.
I love you ALL!!!