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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Giving criticism

I said something in my teaching last Sunday that came out spontaneously and really resonated, I believe, with several of our church family.

We are to, "focus in on what's right with a situation (church, family, job, country, relationship) rather than on what's wrong."

I still believe that today.

It all depends upon our perception. You can leave a relationship, job, church, for whatever reason, but I can guarantee you that, that reason will follow you wherever you go.

Attitude is everything.

Another goofy story: "A young paratrooper was learning to jump, and he was given the following instructions: First, jump when you are told; second, count to 10 and pull the ripcord; third, in the unlikely event that it doesn't open, pull the second chute open; and fourth, when you get down, a truck will take you back to base.

The plane ascended up to the proper height, the men started peeling out, and the young paratrooper jumped when told. He counted to 10 and pulled the cord, but the chute failed to open. He proceeded to the backup plan. The second chute also failed to open. "Oh boy," he said. "When I get down, I suppose the truck won't be there either."

It can be so easy to fall into a discouraged, critical spirit.

That will kill any relationship or organization.

There are no perfect people.

There are no perfect organizations.

Someone once said, "I wouldn't want to join an organization that would let ME in," meaning that it wouldn't be perfect any more.

That is so true.

Let me give us some steps in giving criticism in a positive way and tomorrow I will write about receiving it (I will be using these points in a teaching sometime).

Rules for giving criticism:

1. Pray. We vastly underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do in any relationship.

2. Go directly. Don't triangle. When I go to Bill about a problem I have with Joe, that's triangling, and triangling is of the devil. Matthew 18:15

3. Go privately. Go to the person by yourself. Criticizing a person in the presence of others prior to discussing it privately is not only rude but in violation of 1 Corinthians 13:4. To go privately takes courage.

4. Lead with positive questions. Ask sincere questions to seek first to understand and then to be understood about any given situation. Sometimes it comes down to differing perceptions or differing expectation levels.

5. Doublecheck your motives. Ask: Why am I expressing negative criticism? Has my ego been hurt and do I want to embarrass somebody? Am I upset because I wasn't consulted or the decision didn't go my way? OR IS MY CONCERN TO TRULY HELP THE PERSON AND STRENGTHEN THE - group, organization, church, family, relationship? Am I wanting to "just get something off my chest"?

6. Be honest. We must communicate our true feelings. How many times have people left a church (relationship or job) without explaining their true motivations, and they hide behind a smokescreen for excuses which do not match up with their true motives?

7. Speak the truth in love. Enough said.

8. Be objective and specific. Support your criticism with the facts. Nothing but the facts.

9. Be direct. Avoid using expressions such as "a lot of people are saying," or "I've heard this from several different people." Most of the time they are speaking for themselves and one another person.

10. End by reaffirming the relationship. Start with love, speak in love and end with affirming words that strengthen and guard the relationship.

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