Do You Make this Critical Mistake?

donnahartEncouragement4 Comments

I remember one of the first things we learned in biblical counseling training were the rules for communication from Ephesians 4:25-32. One of the rules, from Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” The lesson of this verse is to attach a problem rather than a person.

Criticism is never useful. It usually causes a person to become defensive and strive to justify themselves. Dale Carnegie (add link) once said, “Criticism is dangerous; because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

F. Skinner the well-know psychologist who proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Continuing research has shown that the same applies to humans. Criticism does not help a person to make changes and often causes resentment instead.

It is important to remember that when we criticize a person they are most likely going to correct and condemn. They usually will justify themselves and turn around to condemn us in return.

Do you know someone you would like to change, regulate, or improve? That is fine, but why not begin, with yourself? From a purely selfish standpoint, this is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others and a lot less dangerous. When dealing with people it is important to remember that we are not dealing with creatures of pure logic. We are faced with creatures filled with emotions, prejudices, and motivated by selfish pride.

Instead of condemning people, it would be better to put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. This is so much more profitable and it breeds sympathy, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.

May our speech be as, (Proverbs 16:24), “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” When have you found pleasant words healing for you?

I look forward to hearing from you.

4 Comments on “Do You Make this Critical Mistake?”

  1. I have always found encouragement when a friend speaks into a tough situation and points out how I am walking in obedience to His Word. When I focus on what I’m doing right I can press forward. An encouraging word goes such a long way for me!

    I oftentimes don’t receive criticism well because there is an assumption of motivation that is usually incorrect, and if you don’t know me well I can easily be dismissive.

    Know me, do life with me and I’ll hear anything you have to say, encouraging or corrective. 🙂

    1. Debbie,
      I heard someone say that feedback is the breakfast of champions. Feedback is helpful when we know someone desires our best interest and not to tear us down.

  2. I remember Pastor James saying that criticism is when we lose hope in people, and complaining is when we lose hope in our circumstances. When our hope is in Christ, we need not do either, but it requires intentionality to avoid these joy stealing habits. When we speak something difficult into someone’s life without really getting before God to check our motives, we can end up speaking death instead of life, and those are words we give account for to a Holy God.

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