The dining section of the New York carried these scathing remarks …
I am still trying to erase the memory of the One and Only Truffle Burger, a culinary experiment so botched that is almost made a vegetarian out of me….
The second course did not fare much better for the reviewer….
What is the point of offering a six-option Sausage Fest if each meaty link has been cooked so that it has the texture of sun-bleached sailing rope?
If we are going to do life, we will face criticism. If you are going to open a restaurant some will not like the food. And criticism hurts. So how might we hold criticism?
Accept criticism from those who have had their “ass kicked.” Limit your time responding to those who have not.
Brene Brown nailed it, “If you’re not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” A good line to live by. Criticism in my experience from those without experience of what you are endeavoring/ hoping to do is most often cheap. Worth little. Unless you primary concern is popularity. In which case listen to it.
Every critic offers at least a partial truth
Not an easy one to accept. Even the most off-the-rails, crazed, narrow critique usually offers criticism that is at least 10% true and valid. Find that 10%. Discard the rest.
And there is always, in my experience, at least 10%, gulp, that I need to hear. And usually the real percent is north of that 10.
On occasion that truth might just be that we need to remain humble and clear. Popularity binds all of us from saying what we must say, and doing what we must do. Thomas Merton wrote that finding ourselves, trapped by adulation, we come to a point where we realize “They dig you. You are canonized. You are the embodiment of their own complacency.” Critique ironically helps us to speak more clearly, more frankly, and when warranted, more directly, all of which in turn break our habitually benign yet deadly turn towards complacency.
Criticism with no movement attached is worth little. Criticism with movement attached is worth a great deal.
Much of the time arguments in churches substitute for the work of church. Churches, as human institutions, respond readily to drama. Churches focused on human preferences quickly lapse into a work of the church, usually in the form of debates around Sunday worship format or pastoral leadership styles, that leads, well, nowhere. Just to more debate.
The flip … criticism with movement attached is worth its weight in gold! Are we serving? Are we reaching out? Are we welcoming enough? Are we choosing the scary thing or just the easy thing?
Keep first things first
We are here to serve God and others not to argue. So live THAT life. In the highest forms of spiritual life “people moved by heavenly love have wisdom written not on their memories but on their lives. They don’t talk about divine truths, they simply do them.” (Divine Love and Wisdom, 427) As such, little room for argument. Who has the time!