Earlier this month, we posted an important post that highlighted a controversial issue that undermines the very nature of the internet. The article was smart and timely.
And it got criticized on nickel and dime junk that totally missed the point.
So, today, we’re posting this: an important post that highlights a controversial image that undermines the Church’s message.
That issue is criticism.
Let’s Get Critical
No, I’m going to weigh into the issues surrounding Perry Noble and fallen mega-pastors. Let’s make this more general by asking a very simple question: What do we hope to achieve when we criticize others?
Are we trying to help the other person better or are we trying to demonstrate our own superiority? Generally, I think it’s the latter.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am often guilty of being critical. It’s easy to do and it’s addictive. Nothing feeds the baser part of your own self than making someone else feel bad about themselves. That’s why we need to be careful about how we present someone with an error or an issue.
The criticism that was sent our way was fair but poorly delivered. The author of the post took the criticism in stride, but it still wasn’t helpful. It didn’t bring a humble recognition of error; instead, it fostered humiliation.
Humiliation doesn’t humble us: it shames and cripples us. To humble someone is to help them see themselves more clearly, which is done directly, personally, and privately. Humiliation causes us to only see our failure.
If we want to help others to do better and be better, we must foster a relationship that allows us to correct them in a way that humbles rather than humiliates. This is God’s way, in fact:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Jesus didn’t say that we couldn’t help each other remove specks from the eyes of others; He simply commands us to know our own limitations first. Of course, this is what we call “humility,” knowing ourselves truly, especially in light of who we are before God.
Thus, before we criticize anyone we must first take stock of our own life. We’re not perfect, so we must not expect perfection from others. That’s not to say that we can’t criticize, that we can’t point out something that’s demonstrably wrong. I’m merely asking that we take caution to make sure that our words actually help others move forward, rather than crippling them where they are.
For criticism to be constructive, it must lead others to humble reflection, and for this to happen, we must be in a place of humble self-reflection first.