Being Equipped

Criticism 1Many times, when I meditate on God’s Word, my eyes are drawn to encouraging and uplifting verses like John 3:16, or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” or “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

And sometimes, as only God can do, He whacks me upside the head with a mackerel as he did during my prayer time the other day when He led me to Proverbs 29:1 (NLT): Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

In the King James Version, this verse reads: He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Not quite as in my face as the NLT. The Old English makes it a little mushier with having to untie the knots in the sentence.

Not the NLT. It’s like stepping on the wrong end of a rake.

When I began writing seriously, the thing I feared most was receiving criticism. I had always been extremely sensitive to criticism. It came from having a poor self-image and being convinced in my mind I could never be smart enough or good enough. My first reaction was to shut down and then, at the first opportunity, I would go off by myself and brood.

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperImagine taking this attitude into a critique group.

But God, with His grace and favor and wisdom, prepared me. He showed me magazine articles, books, and blogs that talked about receiving and giving criticism. He brought me to my first critique group. There I observed a group of people much more experienced than I give and receive critiques in ways that were constructive and encouraging.

Most importantly, through prayer and wise counsel, He showed me, for the first time, how to see the criticism was not about me personally, but about my words.

Sometimes, it’s still hard to make this distinction. The enemy tries to wedge the door open and tell me negative feedback means I’m no good. But God has shown me, no matter what people think of my writing, I am good. I am His child and, as the old saying goes, God does not make junk.

To refuse and reject criticism is to set myself up for failure, to put myself in a situation of not being published, of developing a reputation of being difficult, if not impossible, to work with. This accomplishes several things I don’t want to happen. People won’t work with me or consider my work because I’m not open about improving it. It hurts God because it takes me out of His plan for me. And it gives the enemy a victory because it takes me out of the will of God and opens the door for him to do even more damage, and, thus, for me to be destroyed beyond recovery.

God’s shown me the purpose of the criticism, how it applies through this verse. The feedback is to help me improve as a writer, to develop and refine my craft, to become a better storyteller. To become a better servant of Him by taking my skills to the highest level possible. To walk in obedience and in the fullness of His plan and calling for my life.

After getting my attention in Proverbs 29:1, He led me to this Scripture, a part of a prayer in Hebrews 13:21 (NLT): May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

He’s equipped to me write and He’s equipped me to receive feedback and instruction to improve my writing so it serves Him even better.

6 Replies to “Being Equipped”

  1. Henry, how did you know I needed to hear this? In the face of rejection, the enemy tries to make me think it’s tied to my worth. No, I’m a daughter of the one true King, no matter where my writing it accepted or not. Thank you for this piece of wisdom.

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I’m blessed this post was able to minister to you in even a small way.

  2. “Like stepping on the wrong end of a rake” — great line! I appreciate your post, and the reminder that our work is separate from “us.” It can be so easy to forget that.

    1. Hi Ginny, Thans for your comment. I’ve encountered the wrong end of the rake many times. I’m so grateful for His patience and grace.

  3. Henry – great insight for us all. As a business and relationship coach, I tell my clients that feedback is the lifeblood of excellence. Without it we cannot continue to grow and develop. I also remind them if I should ask, “Do I have your permission to tell you the truth as I see it?” They may always say, “No. Not today.” Sometimes there may be circumstances going on i an not aware of that would make that moment a poor time to receive what might be taken as criticism. My follow up is consistent each time. “Ok not today. When, then shall we do it?” Not knowing about it is the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand: you are in the dark while the world can plainly see your problem. Again – great piece Henry!

    1. Thanks, Deb. I agree with you. We can only stick our head in the sand so many times before it starts taking root and then we can never get it out.

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