I woke up yesterday to an amazingly encouraging e-mail. Later in the morning I had a meeting that was, shall we say, less than complimentary to me. It’s the second one in a week, although from polar opposite sides. Later in the day I got an encouraging card. Also heard a good song (thanks, Mike), and was reminded of other encouragements received lately. You can’t believe half of what you hear, good or bad. I think I’d go crazy if I took what everyone said too seriously. The hard part is that you can’t write off what anyone says without thinking about it. Read this in Spiritual Leadership earlier in the week:
“There is nothing else that so kills the efficiency, capability and initiative of a leader as destructive criticism…It tends to hamper and undercut the efficiency of man’s thinking process. It chips away at his self-respect and undermines his confidence in his ability to cope with his responsibilities.” (quoting R.D. Abella)
Yet also this:
Samuel Brengle, noted for his sense of holiness, felt the heat of caustic criticism. Instead of rushing to defend himself, he replied: “From my heart I thank you for your rebuke. I think I deserved it. Will you, my friend, remember me in prayer?” When another critic attacked his spiritual life, Brengle replied: “I thank you for your criticism of my life. It set me to self-examination and heart-searching and prayer, which always leads me into a deeper sense of my utter dependence on Jesus for holiness of heart, and into sweeter fellowship with Him.”
Not the way I usually respond to criticism. I thought yesterday of what Paul wrote: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4). You can’t believe half the stuff we hear (good or bad) or even the things we tell ourselves. But sometimes you still have to listen.