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 everything to falling prey to sexual temptations or from making poor business decisions.
For example, a little boy who craves praise may well grow into a husband who will be angry and disappointed when he is not 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 This can lead to a man who will be withdrawn, sullen, or even abusive.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 need for affirmation.
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 people.
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.
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! (Proverbs 27:5)
These words must be taken in context with verse 27:6. Honesty in relationships means you don’t ignore someone who is struggling with sin and just hope they get better. This is a quality to be cherished in all of our relationships. Often silent love is no love at all.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
Someone who only has praise for you either is manipulating you or doesn’t know you very well. Although you can’t trust the flattery and praise of others, you should trust the hard things you 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.
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 criticism. Faithful wounds from true friends are the gift of life to you. Such wounds are gifts from God.