Using Criticism as a Stepping Stone
I'd rather be a comma than a full stop~"Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" by Coldplay
About a year or two ago I was talking with some of the kids I used to teach in Sunday school when one of them piped up: “I don’t remember you teaching that class.”
*cue awkward pause*
For three years, two Sundays per month (we alternate with another pair of teachers) for at least an hour at a stretch, and this kid remembered the person I taught with, but not me. Talk about how not to make a lasting impression. (Now I do realize my goal should not be to indelibly imprint myself on these kids’ minds and hearts but to indelibly get God’s Word there. But the comment still stung. I am human, after all.)
I found this comment rattling around in my brain this past weekend while I prepared to teach another class. And I believe the Holy Spirit pointed something out to me: I had been allowing these words to be a stumbling block rather than a stepping stone in my journey. Instead of taking those words and looking at them as a way to challenge myself to get out my rut(s) as a teacher, I chose at various times to use them as an excuse to not put in the time and effort I had available to me for a lesson. I stopped and moped rather than pausing, reassessing, and correcting course.
I also forgot the following admonition (and encouragement) from Paul in his letter to the Colossian church: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)
*cue thoughtful pause*
So I have two ways I can go when criticized or critiqued or corrected. I can stop and mope, never moving any further ahead as I beat myself up for my gaffes and/or list the reasons why such comments are just plain wrong. Or I can pause and consider what truth lies in those words, then make the necessary changes so I can do (and be) better. And along the way, may I be a stepping-stone along the pathway for others as they journey towards – and with – Christ.
*Photo Credit: davosmith (Creative Commons)