I’m a teacher; I understand the value of constructive criticism.
However, all too often pettiness is wrapped up in the name of constructive criticism, and the contributions of others are belittled in order to prop up feelings of self-worth and control.
It’s not okay, and I think that we should speak the truth – in love – to people who shoot from the shadows.
I promise this isn’t about me – this time. The other day I watched a very dear friend of mine respond to an unkind email questioning his/her workplace competence. It was frustrating for me to watch my friend respond with grace and professionalism to unfair, under-informed, mean-spirited statements. In this case, I felt that not responding with the facts only enabled bad behavior.
Inexpert critics have an exaggerated regard for the value of their insight and amount to little more than unqualified, sideline quarterbacks. As such, I think these types of critics need and deserve straightforward responses. I suggest something along the lines of,
You do not need to have an opinion on this.
It’s like watching the tweets that ticker-tape across the bottom of the TV during news stories. Really? Who cares what firstname.lastname@example.org thinks about fill-in-the-blank! Well, apparently it does matter in our post-modern descriptive – not normative – culture.
Why are people’s feelings given more weight than truth? Why are students who dislike a professor, don’t attend class, don’t turn in their homework, and cannot even write an articulate complaint(!) given the influence to get that professor out of rotation?
We know the answer. Money. Got to keep the people and their money coming.
The inmates are running the asylum.
Christian ministries are by no means exempt. In fact, though not the espoused culture, it is often the reality for many organizations. It’s not okay with God to take potshots at the pastor or the president or the admin or the VP or the HR rep or the grounds crew!
People are supposed to know we are Christians by our love. How can we accomplish our mission and how can outsiders hear what they need to hear if we’re too busy backstabbing, belittling, and yapping about how our coworkers are failing to measure up to our expectations – all in the name of constructive criticism and for the “good of the organization.”
Galatians 5:15 offers this warning:
But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Enough ranting. It is what it is. Here’s my two cents. Maybe instead of displaying our StrengthsFinder profiles, we should prominently display this verse on our desks … where we can easily see it:
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29b (NLT)
How many less hundreds of words would come out of my mouth if I only spoke, in love, what is good and helpful!
How many less hundreds of words would come out of my mouth if I constantly remembered that someday every word we say will be judged by God Almighty? Matthew 12:34-37.
On that note, I pity the person who is behind me in the Great Judgment line. You’re going to have a long wait.