I don’t like being corrected or criticized in any way, shape, or form. Do you?
I’ve actually never met anyone who welcomed it naturally. It strikes at our pride and evokes a defense mechanism inside of us. However…
If you want to grow up on the inside – and I do like that thought – then you have to get more comfortable with correction.
In the middle of all of Job’s suffering, he managed to come upon a moment of clarity and declared,
Consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal.
– Job 5:17-18 NLT
When I was a kid, I didn’t get it.
This is going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me?
And now, I’m a parent. And I soooo get it.
But I still struggle daily with correction and constructive criticism when it comes.
Let me make one caveat – there are people who criticize you, not out of love, but out of a subconscious desire to mark you as beneath themselves. Their criticism flows from an unhealthy, broken place that lashes out in hidden pain.
Let that stuff go. Ignore it. Walk away. Let it roll off your back.
And then there are people who truly love us and want to help us grow. They offer correction, not for our harm but for our growth.
As a married man, the person who loves me more than anyone else on the planet is my wife, with whom I’ve now spent a majority of my years on this earth. She knows me. She sees when my motivation isn’t pure, when I’m operating out of an unhealthy place.
And she’s able to offer correction in positive, healthy ways. And of course I always receive it well, right?
I operate, so often, out of defensiveness. I have to assert that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. And sometimes, if I’m really honest, I turn things back around somehow on her, or whomever may be offering the correction in the moment.
The fact is, my relationship with God and my relationship with others echo one another. The maturity it takes to receive correction from other people is the same maturity it takes to receive correction from God, and visa versa.
When I get to the root of defensiveness, I discover pride, fear, and immaturity.
And I’ve discovered some basic principles that might help you on this journey toward maturity…
- Much of our defensiveness flows from a broken place that needs healing. Think back, discover the source of that pain, and talk to God about it. Repeatedly, if necessary.
- It also comes from our sinful tendency to try to remain on the throne of our own lives, which requires pushing away those who challenge our place.
- The people who love me, including God, my wife, and my closest friends, want good things for me. They want maturity for me. They’re not out to harm me, ultimately.
- The people who are out to harm me with their criticism don’t deserve any time or attention in my thoughts. I have healthier things to think about.
- The God who loves you needs to be able to correct you so that you can feel the weight of your sin.
- And the God who loves, and therefore corrects you also heals you, and growth and maturity are the result of healing from the correction.
At the end of it all, it’s ultimately about this question…
Do you want to grow up into full maturity, emotionally and spiritually?
If it’s a yes, get ready for correction and use it as a tool for discovering, rooting out, and repenting of the things that are holding you back!
Disclaimer: No, I didn’t write this in response to an argument with my wife. I wrote it after spending some time reading the book of Job. But I totally get why you might have thought that… I married an absolutely amazing woman who has been the best thing for me, and much of the maturity I’ve attained is directly attributable to her willingness to love me in very honest, yet tender ways.
Guys (and I’m writing primarily to husbands here), marriage is a commitment that requires a whole new level of maturity that none of us possesses at the altar. It comes with experience. And it only comes when we’re willing to humble ourselves, receive truth spoken in love, and grow from it to be better men.