All of us receive criticism. I bet that every one of us can remember the last time we got negative feedback, or were told something about ourselves that we did not like. Or even, discovered that someone thought negatively about us, with no apparent grounds for why they felt that way. Either way, negative feedback is never a pain-free experience.
If you are like me, you pay attention to what people say.
Personally I believe that it is important to understand how people perceive you. Not because their perception is correct, but understanding their viewpoint, goes a long way towards building better relationships. Building relationships is what we as believers are all about: we are to train ourselves in good relationships so that we can reach the world. Consequently, I listen for people’s opinions since all feedback has some truth in it, even if it is just 5%. Listening to what people around me say is an important process of self-evaluation.
All feedback needs to be evaluated, and this is best done in the presence of the Lord.
The Lord knows who we are, and where we are in our journey and so it is important to ask Him to help us sift for truth that is relevant to us. One of the things we do in His presence, is evaluate the “mouthpiece” from which the feedback came. I believe that God uses people to point out our weaknesses, but it should be in the context of a healthy relationship or be a continuing part of a conversation that you and the Lord have been having, or continue to have. God will use people who speak into your life in relationship.
Recently though, I made a different mistake. I received negative feedback from someone, which was similar to feedback I had received three months before. It hurt just as much the second time round, but this time the Lord and I had already talked it through and there was nothing new to this repeated criticism.
But then I made a mistake, I left that meeting, re-examining myself, criticizing myself, wondering how I could have avoided that feedback, condemning myself for actions I took and things I said. Half hour later, I was ready to vomit at the sight of myself in a mirror. I was self criticising.
The future me
Per chance, I met another friend with whom I have a good relationship. In asking her what her current goals where, she said confidently: “To be kind to the future me.” Intrigued I inquired what she meant; these were her timely words to me:
“Whenever I get criticized, I tend to take what is said and criticize myself even further and break myself down. But I know that I am making changes to myself, to grow into a better person with each year. I cannot criticize myself like that anymore; I am being so cruel to myself. So I have decided to be kind to me, because this girl that I am so busy criticizing, is not the girl who will be here, at the end of the year.”
You go girl! It reminded me of Phil 1:6 (AMP) :
“I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who started this work in you, will continue until the day of Christ Jesus[right up to the day of His return], developing (that good work) and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”
I am not perfect. But God is not finished with me yet.
God will send me feedback on areas that I need to change. As I work through it in His presence, He will work in me a new righteousness and bring me closer to the image of Christ. However, I need to be kind to this girl who is busy growing into her future person. I am a work in progress, and you dear friend, who may also be too critical of yourself, are too. Be kind to the future you.
Father I thank you for good friends who long to see us grow into the people You would want us to be. I thank You for timely words and instruction that You bring into my life. Thank You that Your work in my heart and life is a continuing process. Help me to evaluate criticism correctly and not make the mistake of condemning myself on past mistakes. Help me also to remember that self-criticism works against what You are building in my life. I am in relationship with You and your desire is to present me perfect before the throne at the end of time.