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Immerse: Poets - Week 9

Perhaps you’ve noticed by now, Proverbs is full of wisdom about leaning on the insight and life experience of others. The theme continues during week 9 of Immerse: Poets. However, sometimes I don’t necessarily like the insight others offer, either in person or through the Word. I don’t know about you, but when the word “criticism” gets thrown in the mix, I get a little testy and defensive. Okay, okay. I actually turn into an emotional wreck when I feel criticized. Even little stuff like a nine-year old not liking what is served at dinner can make me cry. I’m working on this sensitive side of myself and not taking things personally. While I know constructive criticism should be sought and heard, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to receive. Thankfully, Proverbs has some ideas. When it comes to receiving advice or criticism, here are a couple of thoughts from our reading this week.

Listen. Nooooo, actually listen. Don’t feign listening while you’re thinking of the next thing you’re going to say. Listening is considered valuable. “To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry” (page 239).

Be humble. I’ve been guilty of thinking I’ve got it all figured out, but I don’t! Neither do you. When we have the mindset that we don’t need to hear from others, just remember, “There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise” (page 240).

Apply truth. Be willing to change your ways, to actually apply what others are telling you. Wisdom is only wisdom if you actually apply it. “Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery” (page 245). Yikes!!

Proverbs also has some advice about giving counsel.

Be timely. Pay attention to what is going on in the life of the person you’re talking to. If they just received bad news, it may not be the best time to offer constructive criticism. Additionally, bringing something up that happened a long time ago may not be all that helpful either. “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (page 239).

Share from the heart. Ask if you are sharing from a place of love or perhaps annoyance or irritation. What is your motivation for offering criticism? Giving counsel or criticism can actually be well-received and a gift to the person on the other end.  “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” (page 242).

Our relationships are one of the most important parts of our lives. Healthy relationships allow for honest, loving criticism. Take the advice of Proverbs and receive it and give it well!