The Value Of Criticism


WinstonCWinston Churchill exemplified integrity and respect in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. “That’s Winston Churchill.” “They say he is getting senile.” “They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men.”

When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, “Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf!”

Criticism. Nobody enjoys being criticized, even if it’s done in a kind, loving way. But it’s even more difficult to accept when the criticism is harsh or unfair. The fact is, however, that we all find ourselves from time to time in a position of being unfairly criticized.

Criticism — even destructive criticism — may serve a useful purpose. We need to listen to it and, if possible, profit by it. We ought to be humble enough to recognize that some criticisms are justly deserved. Even when critics are unkind and when they exaggerate our failures, there may still be some truth in what they say.

So, when faced with criticism, we need to look at the situation honestly and ask these questions: Is it true? If so, how can I overcome the condition that caused it? If not, is there something I can do to eliminate future criti­cism of the same type?

It was reported to Abraham Lincoln once that one of his cabinet members had called him a fool. Having verified the fact that Mr. Stanton had indeed referred to him in this manner, Lincoln said, “Mr Stanton is a wise man. If he said I am a fool, then I had better look into the matter.”

It has been said, “We learn much from the disagreeable things people say, for they make us think, whereas the good things only make us glad.”

For Christians, criticism should be a stepping stone to spiritual growth! It’s an opportunity to learn what we’re doing wrong and what we need to correct. It provides us with the motivation we need to change and mature.

“If you listen to correction to improve your life, you will live among the wise. Those who refuse correction hate themselves, but those who accept correction gain understanding.” (Proverbs 15:31-32, NCV)

Alan Smith

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