As someone with perfectionist tendencies and an innate desire to please people and be well-respected, learning to accept criticism gracefully has been one of my struggles in spiritual maturation. I don't know that there is anyone out there that really ENJOYS criticism, but for me, it went beyond that. In my younger days, criticism was a personal affront. I could spend hours and days stewing on a criticism, no matter how mildly-given, blowing it up in my mind to epic proportions. But the beauty of daily through-the-Bible-in-a-year reading that James and I have done annually for several years now, is that the more subtle scriptures that maybe you missed last time stand out to you in a fresh reading as you grow up in your salvation. Unbeknownst to me, this time around, the Lord has been plowing over my heart (and yes, that visual is not a comfortable, gentle thing - because it's not MEANT to be) to learn to be a wiser woman who can accept criticism and use it to grow in obedience and spiritual awareness. Of course, one doesn't become more skilled in anything without practice, which means, yes, I've been given charitable instruction on how I might do things better (because we are new missionaries on deputation, there's PLENTY of room for learning and mistakes, that's for sure). And the lusts of the flesh are still there. I still feel the sting of offense and rejection at first. But the Lord has been gracious to still my tongue and immediately remind me of the many places in Scripture where we are reminded that accepting rebuke with joy and humility is a requirement of the mature believer. I'm continually reminded of God's great grace in working through me -- a broken vessel who, on my own, can do nothing but continually disappoint the very people I love and am ministering to. Thank God we have a merciful Father, a loving Son who accepted the penalty due us for our grievous sins, and a Spirit who is given to us as a Comforter and Counselor.
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