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Faith Moment
February 29, 2016
Criticism

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

The late John Wanamaker was the king of retail. One day while walking through his store in Philadelphia, he noticed a customer waiting for assistance. No one was paying the least bit of attention to her. Looking around, he saw his salespeople huddled together laughing and talking among themselves. Without a word, he quietly slipped behind the counter and waited on the customer himself. Then he quietly handed the purchase to the salespeople to be wrapped as he went on his way.

Later, Wanamaker was quoted as saying, “I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence.”

Like Wanamaker, I have more than enough trouble overcoming my own limitations. Perhaps not surprisingly, criticism from others never seems to help much in that process. I actually am aided more by encouragement and a good example.

It reminds me of another story about Darryl Royal, the great coach of the University of Texas football team. Shortly after his first game as Head Coach, Royal was approached by an alumnus who asked when he and a few fellow alumni could meet with Royal to tell him all that he had done wrong during his game. The man went on to share that this group engaged in this ritual after every game for the previous coach and would like to continue the process with Royal.

Coach Royal told the man that he would never show up for such a meeting since he functioned better in relationships of encouragement and praise than in relationships of criticism.

I have chosen to surround myself with those who encourage and uplift me. In such relationships, should a critique ever be shared, I am certain it is shared in love and is therefore safe to consider. Further, I am choosing to be less critical of those around me. Love and encouragement are far better motivators. And when a critique must be made, it is to be shared in love.

I like what Alice Miller wrote about criticism. “If it is very painful for you to criticize your friends, you are safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that is the time to hold your tongue.”

With Love,
Mike

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