Want to know how to really grind my gears? How to make me anxious and frustrated?
Criticize me. Tell me what I’m doing is all wrong. Correct my actions and mistakes.
Yeah, I don’t handle criticism well. I’m very disciplined with myself, and my inner voice tends to be quite critical, but to receive that same correction from others? I should probably work on that.
Especially because being disciplined with yourself and having others discipline you is elemental in being a disciple of God. Look how similar and related the words “disciplined” and “disciple” already are!
So if being a disciplined disciple is pleasing to God, then how can we more fully embody that? How can we not only accept correction and criticism, but embrace it?
what the Bible says.
There are several important verses regarding discipline that we can consider and apply to our own situations.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Discipline is how we know we’ve strayed away from our values and God’s will. In the moment of receiving discipline, it’s likely the last thing we want to experience. But how else would we know to act differently, or that we aren’t living up to the standards we want from ourselves?
Many of the Bible verses reflecting upon discipline are for those not following the Ten Commandments. For example, Proverbs 6:23 says, “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” This is said with all the negative consequences of committing adultery.
Maybe we aren’t all going so far as to commit adultery or commit murder, but the Ten Commandments should be a pillar of our disciplined discipleship. They are God’s Law, and through following them, He sets our paths straight toward Him. He guides us in many other ways throughout our days, but His commandments and teachings are set in stone.
Even those who aren’t Christian likely still follow similar ideals of not killing, coveting, or stealing. They’re fairly universal morals. Most would say, if you’re a decent human being, you won’t do those things on a normal day. So we might not agree on every doctrine, but we can all attest to disciplined morality. It connects us, draws us closer together. Discipline ensures we don’t sever those ties.
I have to mention, while discussing discipline, how to give guidance to others. I don’t have children, so I can’t give advise there beyond please don’t spank or hit your kids.
We’ll inevitably face a moment where we feel compelled to tell a loved one or acquaintance that they’re acting poorly, or that they made a poor moral decision. Think of when a friend hurt your feelings, or a parent acted rashly to something you admitted to doing, or even a stranger being rude to you for no good reason.
We should approach discipline for what it is: an act of love. Revelation 3:19 says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” We want the best from others. It shows that we care about them, and we’re mindful of their actions.
Before you do or say anything, evaluate your intentions: are you angry and frustrated, allowing emotions to take control? Or are you calm and thoughtful, really connecting with someone else to express yourself? Discipline shouldn’t feel threatening. It shouldn’t make you scared. It should simply instill that inner sense of obedience and understanding.
Think of Jesus’s disciples, their obedience and love for Jesus. They follow Him physically and spiritually, allowing His Word guide their thoughts and actions. They were human; they weren’t perfect like Jesus. But because they claim themselves as His disciples, they hold themselves accountable to His discipline.
That, to me, is a clear example of discipline embodying love. He’s the shepherd, and He loves each of his sheep. The last thing He’d want is for a sheep to go astray, and He’ll put in the time and effort to redirect the sheep to the flock if it scurries off.
in a grander scheme.
I also see God being a disciplinarian for His children in ways we might not think about.
When life takes hold of the reins, things don’t work out as planned, you fail big-time… that’s often God’s mysterious way of discipline. He sees what might go contrary to His Word and teaching, and He redirects us.
We’re likely not thinking about pitfalls this way. We’re a mix of negative emotions: disgust, shame, frustration, self-pity, anger. Perhaps we blame ourselves, or we blame others. We focus on the failure and hardship rather than the good that might come from it all.
Let’s reframe hardship because there is a reason for everything. God doesn’t make us struggle for nothing. Instead, He puts us in difficult circumstances to not only test our faith in Him, but to also reaffirm our obedience.
Proverbs 12:1 reminds us, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Through struggle, we gain knowledge. We can more clearly see God’s hand in everything. We trust in His love and correction. We become more conscious of Him. We realize there’s a purpose set in place that we will obtain through accepting Him.
Maybe you don’t believe in God in the same way; that’s completely okay. I still think, however, that we can approach criticism and correction differently. Someone wants you to be a better version of yourself. A hardship or failure is never completely negative. Through a lens of love, unsavory words and circumstances can seem more thoughtful, more considerate.
Humanity is in the same boat, and we’re looking out for one another. And if something doesn’t work out as you wanted, then better things are meant for you, and they’re coming soon. The best is yet to come. The universe has a funny way of balancing itself out: good, loving intentions do receive reward.
Do you hate criticism from others? Through God and His loving nature, how might you view this same criticism differently?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie