Years ago, when I was working in the Library, I had a little plaque on my desk that said, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys.” I don’t know about you, but I knew exactly what that meant for me. I come to work in the morning: it’s a gorgeous sunny day, my hair isn’t in need of Static Guard to hold down that one annoying little hair that inevitably sticks straight up, I only have 4 or 5 phone calls to return and my email from the night before isn’t 25 items (mostly forwarded jokes ) to go through. I sit at my desk and pause to say again, “Thanks, Lord, for a wonderful day. Use me in someone’s life today.”
And then – it would start — innocently enough. I walked through the hallways, or someone would stop at my office door and make a comment. It’s not necessarily made in anger – in fact more often, it’s a little snide or off-handed remark about another staff member or perhaps about someone encountered in a customer service setting. Probably is wasn’t meant to be critical or cruel, but all of a sudden it’s like the sun stopped shining and my Static Guard has ceased to do its work. Whether consciously or not, the insidious critical attitude has reared its head, and I find myself pulled down to the turkey level, willing – often VERY willing – and able to jump right in with a comment or criticism of my own.
I have been challenged so many times in recent weeks about criticism and judgment. And, very often, while I can so EASILY identify harmful criticism in someone else, I seem able to overlook it (or call it something else) when I am guilty of it. In my Sunday School class, we have been taking a look at how we should be building up one another, using Gene Getz’s book as a jumping off point. Unfortunately, as we work through the chapters, I find that I am able to see examples of critical or judgmental thoughts on my part, instead of generous, loving thoughts toward a sister in Christ. As if to say, what gives me the right to look at my Christian sister (or anyone else for that matter) and criticize her speech, manner of dress, spending habits, use of her time or any one of a host of other things I can think of.
When I look at the ease with which criticism – mine or anyone else’s – comes, I am reminded that it all boils down to one thing – PRIDE. When I am critical or judgmental, it is because I think I have the corner on the truth, whatever I perceive that truth may be. My pride puffs me up and says, “You are better than she is at [fill in your own blank].” How am I exhibiting love for my sister in the Lord when I tear her down to build up myself? The answer is – I’m not.
So every time I am tempted to be drawn into or pulled down by criticism, I have to challenge myself to remember that as I profess to be seeking the “mind of Christ” in my life, I must be willing to be made humble as Jesus was in order to serve (Philippians 2:5-8). The only “turkey” in this picture is me!
My prayer is that God will enable me, through His indwellling Spirit, to be an eagle for someone today and help me to be the reason someone is encouraged and not beaten down.
Written by Lynn Randall: Lynn is the Director of Human Resources at America’s KESWICK. She is active in her church and is a gifted planner and organizer. She has a real heart for people as evidenced by her care, concern and practical encouragement.