Friday, November 7, 2008

Criticism and Pride

For hereunto were ye called:
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example,
that ye should follow his steps:
who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth:
when he was reviled,
reviled not again;
when he suffered,
threatened not;
but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
1 Peter 2:21-23 RV

Accepting criticism is never an easy thing. Being criticised is never fun, is never something one actively seeks. Whether it is deserved or not, the normal reaction is one of negativity.

I have a real problem with criticism. I don't handle it well at all. In some ways, the older I get, the worse I am at dealing with it.

When I was at music school, we would present our pieces in front of all the students, and then there would be a discussion on the merits, or lack thereof, of the the piece. I always found this hard, but I was confident in my work, so whatever wrongs there were, I never felt personally slighted by them.

I recently had some criticism that I found difficult to deal with. My competence, qualifications and manner were called into question. I stewed on this for month, became ill, all while I was getting to set to train my replacement.

The same weekend was our parish jubilee, with all the hoopla that entails. During rehearsals an incident or a "joke" came to my attention, which I found hurtful. The next day I turned up, and was rebuked for not doing something.

It was all a bit much for an over sensitive person such as myself. I over reacted and left.

The next day I read the following:

To recieve rightly and without offence the criticism of our own acts or characters is a large part of true meekness. I do not think it makes much difference, as far as this virtue is concerned, whether the criticism is justified or not; it may be that the bearing of them is a harder test when they are justified. Yet if we have a true and sober estimate of ourselves, I think we shall know that every criticism is justified in its spirit if not in its details. The humble man will do more than accept criticism without anger or bitterness; he will rejoice in it, seeing in it an aid to greater light on himself and to a truer estimate of his character.
Following the Way, Anon, SPCK, 1925; p 53.
I wish I had read it earlier in the month.

To realise that my over reaction was based purely on my pride being hurt has been a difficult thing. Pride is a difficult thing to overcome, and in this early stage of my journey, I now realise, yet again, how much I have to learn.
And he said,
That which proceedeth out of the man,
that defileth the man.
For from within,
out of the heart of men,
evil thoughts proceed,
an evil eye,
all these evil things proceed from within,
and defile the man.
Mark 7:20-23 RV

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