I have an embarrassing confession to make: I’m a perfectionist.
Before you judge me too harshly, let me remind you that there are plenty of us perfectionists out there; I’m not the only odd bird who likes my shirts ironed, my room cleaned and my work praised as flawless.
But even if you can’t identify with the weird quirks of perfectionists and neat-freaks, perhaps you can relate to one of our nearest and dearest character traits: a crippling fear of criticism.
Nobody likes to get criticized. No matter how many times we graciously slide the word “constructive” in front of it, criticism has a funny habit of triggering discouraging thoughts for the receiving party: I’m no good at my job. I’m not valued in this community. No one appreciates how hard I am trying. I am worthless.
And the crazy thing is, criticism doesn’t limit itself to one particular area of life, whether it be professional, personal, familial or spiritual. Everything is fair game. In fact, the places where we retreat for safety and reassurance are often the most hazardous. How often have you come home from a rough day at work—craving love and affirmation—only to be blindsided by disparaging comments from a family member or close friend?
Admittedly, criticism can come at bad times. Unkind words can poison healthy feedback. But most of the time, the pain of receiving criticism springs directly from the proud perfectionist lurking in my heart. I hate being wrong! I dislike do-overs! But most of all, I resist the discomfort of objectively admitting that personal change is needed.
When receiving criticism feels hard, I find encouragement—and the strength to appreciate loving correction—through God’s Word. If you’re struggling to receive criticism today, join me in meditating on these five Bible verses:
- Proverbs 27:17 (GNTD)
People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.
- Proverbs 27:17 (GNTD)
An intelligent person learns more from one rebuke than a fool learns from being beaten a hundred times.
- Proverbs 11:2 (GNTD)
People who are proud will soon be disgraced. It is wiser to be modest.
- Proverbs 13:18 (GNTD)
Someone who will not learn will be poor and disgraced. Anyone who listens to correction is respected.
- Proverbs 15:1 (GNTD)
A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.
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