Don’t fear the criticism of others!

Posted on February 18, 2014 · Posted in Communication, Criticism_, Shaping Influences

Proverbs has some profound things to say about receiving criticism.  Solomon warns against living for the praise of others. Learning to wisely receive criticism is a life skill that will serve you and your children well. This skill offers protection from falling prey to sexual temptations or from making poor business decisions. 

Don’t miss this. When you are motivated by winning the praise of others you lose the ability to be biblically objective.

The wise man (including the wise child) is motivated by the fear of God and the pursuit of wisdom (Proverbs 1;7; 3:11-18).  This is an important lesson for children to grasp.  For example, a little boy who craves praise may well grow into a husband who will be angry or disappointed when he receives criticism. He can become bitter and resentful when he is not being constantly praised. He can easily be prone to self-pity. This can lead to a man who will be withdrawn, sullen, or even abusive. 

Similarly, a young woman who lives for the praise of others, becomes a target for those who would take advantage of her. 

If you live for human praise you will be a slave to your own self interest. Here are three verses in the Proverbs (there are many others) that will prepare you and your children to avoid the trap of living for the praise of man.

A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 6:28

In this proverb flattery is likened to a lying tongue. Don’t trust flattery. Flattery brings disaster upon those who listen to it. Flattery is an effective and deadly tool used in the art of manipulation.  When others learn what you wrongly crave, they have gain control of your heart through flattery.

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
someone else, and not your own lips.  

 (Proverbs 27:2)

When you hear something like, “Mommy, it took me all day and I had to give up what I really wanted to do, but I just wanted to do this for you anyway,” you may well be hearing a child preoccupied with praise. Beware of adults who use the same technique.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 27:6

This la Someone who only has praise for you either is manipulating you or doesn’t know you very well. Although we can’t trust the flattery and praise of others, we should trust the hard things we hear from a friend. Constructive criticism (even when it hurts) that comes from parents and friends is to be welcomed, even treasured. Why? Faithful wounds are a demonstration that someone cares more about you than receiving your praise or what you can do for them.

So there is no need to fear the criticism of others. Because the wise man is dominated by his love of God and wisdom he takes every opportunity to learn from faithful criticism. How valuable are the wounds of a friend to you and to your children? Such wounds are gifts from God.

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.