Yesterday I received a bit of criticism because I was near someone who was talking. It's amazing just how much one small statement can change your outlook on the day. I was doing ok during the day until I heard the criticism. All of a sudden my energy level plummeted and didn't really come back all day.
I was reading Isaiah 40.27-31 today which says this:
Those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
That was definitely an example of how I felt. I felt far from God and felt exhausted from this distance.
I could go into the happy discussion about mission trips and how much working you butt off for 12 hours or more for God really does give you energy. I could talk about how I can spend 20 hours a day awake in the hot sun leading people at CreationFest and still wake up full of energy. But that's for another day. just know that in my life this statement is definitely true.
When I read this today I had these thoughts.
God isn’t criticizing the work I do; He’s excited that I’m doing it. God’s also not critiquing everything and making sure that it’s up to standard; He’s happy that I’m working to spread His message in the best way I know how.
We all need constructive criticism, and there are times I’ve really messed up. Being regularly reminded of those times, even small ones which don’t have a lasting effect, seems to create in me a belief that I’m really not that good at this and I should let it go.
Somehow, criticism also creates a relationship where I am trying to “live up” to the person doing the criticizing. When a parent complains that their child isn’t “spiritually mature” enough, whatever that means, I begin recognizing the ways in which I’m not deepening the faith of teens. I’m more on my toes, subconsciously trying to live up to the standards of the criticizer.
In the end though, the work we do, and the energy we receive, comes from the joy and energy God gives us for working in Him. I get to accept the screw-ups because He did. I get to enjoy making mistakes because He'll make things right.
The next time you're ready to criticize someone, especially your spouse (man do I know what Erin should be doing sometimes), remember that screwing up and living the life we see God leading us toward makes Him happy. He gives us energy to continue to grow and work for Him.
Even if it's not done the way you'd do it, that doesn't mean it wasn't done right.