Monday, March 28, 2011

Criticism and Proverbs

Recently, someone made a discouraging remark to me about my career. It seemed to come out of nowhere - everything up until and everything after that comment was positive - and I respect and like the person who made the comment that discouraged me. Proverbs 22:17 says, Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. Proverbs 25:11 and 12 say, Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

When I'm discouraged or criticized, I have a tendency to believe the speaker is wise and that there's something wrong with me and my judgement. (Plus, I don't want to miss out on gold jewelry!) Needless to say, I can be very easily swayed or shaken by criticism. However, this time, I got the feeling the discouragement wasn't coming from a place of wisdom. Instead, I think it came from jealousy, insecurity, or fear - even though the comment came from someone I respect and like. This got me thinking that not all discouragement and advice comes from people who are as wise and well-intentioned as I think them to be.

Proverbs 26:16 says, Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors. If someone thinks they're wise, chances are, they're telling people what they think. That doesn't mean they should be trusted as being wise. Also, you can't assume an adviser has good intentions. Proverbs 26:23 says, Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as pretty glaze covers a clay pot. And sometimes, even when people seem to be right in so many ways, their motives are off, so they also might not be as trustworthy as you first think. Proverbs 21:2 says, People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.

While I still have respect for the person who made the comment to me, I need to remember that I can't believe everything that people say to me. If you're in a similar situation, remember to slow down and carefully weigh criticism against God's wisdom. You'll be better off if you pay attention to wise advice, but you'll be setting yourself back if you listen to every negative comment that's tossed your way.

By the way, make sure you examine the words that come out of your mouth, too.

For more advice on wisdom - and so much more! - check out more of Proverbs. I used the New Living Translation in this post.

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