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Criticizing and Advising



Encouragement is like a peanut butter sandwich—the more you spread it around, the better things stick together. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Said Bear Bryant, one of the greatest college football coaches ever, when he was pushed to explain his philosophy of coaching: “There’s just three things I ever say to my players: ‘If anything goes bad, then I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it.’ That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you. I can do that better than anybody.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



In a 1978 interview, Low Holtz, at the time the head coach of the then number-one rated Arkansas Razorbacks, modeled and stated his philosophy of coaching. At practice, Holtz grabs his players by their face masks and shakes them; he flails at them with his hat; he throws his hat in disgust; he smacks players on the rear with his omnipresent manila folder. “Once you get things going, then you begin to build confidence.” He says. “You praise loudly and criticize softly.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Dr. Paul Tournier received the supreme compliment of life on day when an acquaintance came to visit him in his home. The acquaintance relayed a message from a third party, who had never met Dr. Tournier but had been helped through many of his writings. The message was: “You’ve going to see Paul Tournier in Switzerland. No doubt I shall never see him in this world, but tell him from me that he will be one of the first people I shall look out for in heaven.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Merrill Womach, a brilliant Christian singer, was in a plane that struck a tree after takeoff in the winter of 1961. The plane caught fire and Womach tumbled out of the plane engulfed in flames. Some people found him and drove him to a hospital. On the way, to their amazement—from a body squealing with pain—came these words:

        I’ve found the dear Savior and I’m made whole,

        I’m pardoned and have my release.

        His spirit abiding and blessing my soul,

        Praise God in my heart there is peace.

        Wonderful peace, wonderful peace.

        When I think how he brought me from darkness to light,

        There’s a wonderful, wonderful peace.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A little girl lost a playmate in death and one day reported to her family that she had gone to comfort the sorrowing mother. “What did you say?” asked her parents. “Nothing,” she replied. “I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



The Joe Bayly family, in the course of several years, lost three of their children. In his book “View from A Heatse”, Joe Bayly shared his honest feelings when one of his children died.

“I was sitting there torn by grief. Someone came and talked of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly. He said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he’d go away. He finally did.

“Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask me leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, and left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Adventuresome and courageous pioneers have often faced the critical laughter of jealous observers.

The first American steamboat took thirty-two hours to go from New York to Albany. People laughed.

The horse and buggy passed the early motor car as if it were standing still (it usually was). People laughed.

The first electric light bulb was so dim that people had to use a gas lamp to see it. They laughed.

The first airplane came down fifty-nine seconds after it left the ground. People laughed.

If you try to tackle a big job, or if you have new ideas, expect criticism! ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



The story is told of an old man whose grandson rode a donkey while they were traveling from one city to another. The man heard some people say, “Would you look at that old man suffering on his feet while that strong young boy is totally capable of walking.”

So then the old man rode the donkey while the boy walked. And he heard some people say, “Would you look at that, a healthy man making the poor young boy suffer. Can you believe it?”

So the man and the boy both rode the donkey, and they heard some people say, “Would you look at those heavy brutes making that poor donkey suffer.” So they both got off and walked, until they heard some people say, “Would you look at the waste—a perfectly good donkey not being used.”

Finally, the scene shifts and we see the boy walking and the old man carrying the donkey. No matter what you do, someone will always criticize it. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



The following is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt:

“It’s not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds might have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A man was applying for the job of private secretary to Winston Churchill. Before introducing him, an aunt of Churchill’s told the man, “Remember, you will see all of Winston’s faults in the first five hours. It will take you a lifetime to discover his virtues.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching


Ignoring Criticism

Sailors in the northern oceans have frequently observed icebergs traveling in one direction in spite of strong winds blowing in the opposite direction. The icebergs were moving against the winds, but how? The explanation is that the icebergs, with eight-ninths of their bulk under the water surface, were caught in the grip of strong currents that moved them in a certain direction, no matter which way the winds raged.

In the Christian life, no matter how strongly the winds of passing opinion blow in opposition, the believer who has a depth of living in the currents of God’s grace should move toward righteousness. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A lady in an airport bought a book to read and a package of cookies to eat while she waited for her plane. After she had taken her seat in the terminal and gotten engrossed in her book, she noticed that the man one seat away from her was fumbling to open the package of cookies on the seat between them. She was so chocked that a stranger would eat her cookies that she didn’t really know what to do, so she just reached over and took one of the cookies and ate it. The man didn’t say anything but soon reached over and took another. Well, the woman wasn’t going to let him eat them all, so she took another, too. When they were down to one cookies, the man reached over, broke the cookie in half, and got up and left. The lady couldn’t believe the man’s nerve, but soon the announcement came to board the plane.

Once the woman was aboard, still angry at the man’s audacity and puzzling over the incident, she reached into her purse for a tissue. It suddenly dawned on her that she really shouldn’t judge people too harshly-for there in her purse lay her still-unopened package of cookies. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



A man was on the practice golf course when the club pro brought another man out for a lesson. The pro watched the fellow swing several times and started making suggestions for improvement, but each time the pupil interrupted with his own version of what was wrong and how to correct it. After a few minutes of this interference, the pro began nodding his head in agreement. At the end of the lesson, the student paid the pro, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher, and left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.

The observer was so astonished by the performance that he asked, “Why did you go along with him?” “Son,” the old pro said with a grin, as he carefully pocketed his fee, “I learned long ago that it’s a waste of time to sell answers to a man who wants to buy echoes.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



John was driving home late one night when he picked up a hitchhiker. As they rode along, he began to be suspicious of his passenger. John checked to see if his wallet was safe in the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it wasn't there! So he slammed on the brakes, ordered the hitchhiker out, and said, "Hand over the wallet immediately!" The frightened hitchhiker handed over a billfold, and John drove off. When he arrived home, he started to tell his wife about the experience, but she interrupted him, saying, "Before I forget, John, do you know that you left your wallet at home this morning?" ── Our Daily Bread, October 2, 1992.

One of the saddest and scariest stories I've ever heard was about a young evangelist. He was just barely 21, on fire for God, effective in his preaching and soul-winning, and in great demand from local churches. He had preached several large crusades and was soon invited to an area-wide effort at which he would be the main speaker. Though he was not yet even out of college, he was a prot?of international evangelist, Sammy Tippit, and was admired and considered wise. Though he didn't have a steady girlfriend, he dated regularly at Bible college. Spiritually he was alert and mature. He was, however, naive. The first night of the crusade he headed up the counseling ministry in a large room near the pastor's study. A beautiful teen-ager asked if she could speak with him personally. He tried to assign her to someone else, but when she persisted, he agreed for her to wait until he was finished with the others. More than an hour after the meeting had ended, the rest of the counselors and counselees had left, and he was alone with the young girl. A few minutes later she burst from the room, screaming, "He made a pass at me! He wanted to make love to me!" That very night the pastor of the host church and a small group of the crusade planners confronted the young preacher and demanded an explanation. He denied the girl's charge but had no witnesses. The girl had seemed an upstanding young woman in the church, and there was no reason to disbelieve her story.

"What did happen in that room?" the pastor demanded. "To tell you that would to be to make an accusation behind someone's back," he said. "Which is what happened to me. I ask only that I be allowed to face my accuser." The pastor and the others canceled the rest of the crusade and agreed that the young woman should be asked to face the preacher in their presence. Two nights later she showed up with her parents at a private board meeting. The pastor asked if she would care to speak about her charges against the preacher. "She has already said all she has to say, "her father said sternly, her mother nodding and glaring at the accused. "Would you, son care to share your version of what happened in that room the other night?" "No, sir," the evangelist said. "I see no future in that. Only she and I know the truth, and I cannot defend myself. I'd just like to say this to her. Cindy, you know what happened and what didn't happen in that room. If you don't tell the truth, I will be branded and may never preach again. This will damage my reputation and that of this church, and even that of God. If I did what you say I did, I deserve no better, but we both know that is not the truth. I'm begging you in the name of Christ to set the record straight." The silence hung heavy as the board and her parents watched her face contort into a grimace before the tears began to flow. "I lied," she said quietly. "I'm sorry. I lied. He didn't make a pass at me; I made a pass at him. When he turned me down I was so embarrassed and ashamed and angry that I made up that story. I'm so sorry!" ── Jerry Jenkins, Hedges, 1989, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, pp 76-78.



A wise man seeks much counsel… a fool listens to all of it. ―― Larry Burkett.



Most of us are umpires at heart; we like to call balls and strikes on somebody else. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Judge not.

        The workings of the mind and heart

        Thou canst not see.

        What looks to thy dim eyes as stain

        In God’s pure light may only be a scar,

        Bought from some well-won field

        Where thou wouldst only faint and yield.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        I saw them tearing a building down,

        A gang of men in a dusty town.

        With a “yo heave ho” and lusty yell,

        They swung a beam and the side wall fell.

        I asked the foreman if these men were as skilled.

        As the men he’d hire, if he were to build.

        He laughed and said, “Oh, no indeed.

        Common labor is all I need.”

        For those men can wreck in a day or two,

        What builders had taken years to do.

        I asked myself as I sent my way,

        Which kind of role am I to play?

        Am I the builder who builds with care,

        Measuring life by the rule and square?

        Or am I the wrecker who walks the town,

        Content with the role of tearing down?

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



Horse Sense:

        A horse can’t pull while kicking,

        This fact we merely mention,

        And he can’t kick while pulling,

        Which is our chief contention.

        Let us imitate the good horse,

        And lead a life that’s fitting;

        Just pull an honest load, and then

        There will be no time for kicking.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



The Critic:

        A little seed lay on the ground,

        And soon began to sprout.

        “Now, which of all the flowers around,”

        It mused, “shall I come out?

        The lily’s face is fair and proud,

        But just a trifle cold;

        The rose, I think, is rather loud,

        And then, its fashion’s old.

        The violet is all very well,

        But not a flower I’d choose;

        Nor yet the Canterbury bell—

        I never cared for blues,”

        And so it criticized each flower,

        This supercilious seed,

        Until it woke one summer morn,

        And found itself—a weed.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



We could all save ourselves a lot of words if we'd only remember that people rarely take advice unless they have to pay for it.── Source Unknown.

The trouble with good advice is that it usually interferes with your plans.─ Traditional.

Good advice is what your own kids disregard but save to give to their kids.── Traditional.

Business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats. Claim them all as victories. Keep track of what you do; someone is sure to ask. Be comfortable around senior managers, or learn to fake it. Never bring your boss a problem without some solution. You are getting paid to think, not to whine. Long hours don't mean anything; results count, not effort. Write down ideas; they get lost like good pens.

Always arrive at work 30 minutes before your boss. Be sure to sit at the conference table-never by the wall. Help other people that network for jobs. What goes around comes around. Don't take sick days-unless you are. Assume no one can/will keep a secret. Always have an answer to the question "What would I do if I lost my job tomorrow?" Go to the company holiday party. Don't get get drunk at the company holiday party. Avoid working on the weekends. Work longer during the week if you have to. The most successful people in business are interesting.

Sometimes you'll be on a roll and everything will click; take maximum advantage. When the opposite is true, hold steady and wait it out.  Never in your life say," It's not my job." Be loyal to your career, your interests and yourself. Understand the skills and abilities that set you apart. When ever you have an opportunity, use them. People remember the end of the project. As they say in boxing," Always finish stronger than you start." ── Source Unknown.

1. Never have more children than you have car windows.
2. Never loan your car to someone to whom you have given birth.
3. Pick your friends carefully. A "friend" never goes on a diet when you are fat or tells you how lucky you are to have a husband who remembers Mother's Day--when his gift is a smoke alarm.
4. Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
5. Know the difference between success and fame. Success is Mother Teresa. Fame is Madonna.
6. Never be in a hurry to terminate a marriage. Remember, you may need this man or woman someday to finish a sentence.
7. There are no guarantees in marriage. If that's what you're looking for, go live with a Sears battery.
8. Never go to a class reunion pregnant. They will think that's all you have been doing since you graduated. 

── Erma Bombeck.

Forget each kindness that you do as soon as you have done it. Forget the praise that falls to you the moment you have won it. Forget the slander that you hear before you can repeat it. Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer, whenever you may meet. Remember every promise made and keep it to the letter. Remember those who lend you aid and be a grateful debtor. Remember all the happiness that comes your way in living. Forget each worry and distress; be hopeful and forgiving. Remember good, remember truth, remember heaven is above you. And you will find, through age and youth, that many will love you.── Source Unknown.



In Illustrations from Literature, Amy L. Person pointed out that in our eagerness to get people to do what we want, we sometimes forget the admonitions of Scripture to be controlled by love. When that happens, we quickly resort to nagging and scolding. This does more harm than good. To drive home her point, the author related an Aesop's fable that tells of the wind and the sun arguing about which one was the stronger. At last the sun said, "Look at that traveler down there. Let's see which of us can get him to take off his coat. I'll let you begin." While the sun hid his face behind a cloud, the wind began to blow; but the harder he blew, the more firmly the poor fellow held his garment about him. Finally the wind gave up. Then the sun came out and shone so warmly that the man soon removed his coat.  Amy Person commented, "Many times kindness and gentleness will get results when fussing and scolding can do nothing but fail." 

Our Daily Bread.

When Benjamin Franklin wished to interest the people of Philadelphia in street lighting, he didn't try to persuade them by just talking about it. He hung a beautiful lantern on a long bracket in front of his home. He kept the glass highly polished. Every evening at the approach of dusk, he carefully lit the wick. People saw the light from a distance and when they walked in its light, found that it helped them to avoid sharp stones on the pavement. Others placed light at their homes, and soon Philadelphia recognized the need for street lighting.

As others learn of the peace and joy you have in your life in Christ, they will recognize their need for Him. Your witness through personal testimony may be just what someone is waiting for!

Source Unknown.

Bill stopped in at Abie's little general store, looking for a bottle of mustard. The shelves were loaded with salt -- bags and bags of salt. Abie said he had some mustard, but that he would have to go down to the cellar to find it. Bill went down with him, and there to his surprise were still more bags of salt. Everywhere he looked he could see salt.

"Say," said Bill, "you must sell a lot of salt in this store!"

"Nah," said Abie sourly. "I can't sell no salt. But that feller who sells me salt -- boy, can he sell salt!"

Source Unknown.

Teenagers are much more inclined to take warnings about steroids seriously if the drugs' muscle-building benefits are acknowledged in the same speech, say doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University. That was the case when the doctors lectured nine high school football teams on the effects of steroids. They found that football players who heard a balanced presentation on steroids were 50 percent more likely to believe that the drugs could harm their health than those who were told just of the dangers. This isn't the only instance where scare tactics have been known to fail. In spite of a massive, ongoing campaign on the hazards of cigarette smoking, millions continue to light up. Health experts might be more successful if they acknowledged the pleasurable aspects of smoking. Then once they had a smoker's attention, they could let loose on why it's time to quit. 

Spokesman Review, November 13, 1991, p. C1.

Motivational speaker Bill Gove tells a story about Harry, who ran a small appliance store in Phoenix, Arizona. Harry was used to price-shopping by young couples. The would ask detailed questions about features, prices, and model numbers, and one of them always took notes. Harry knew that as soon as they left the store they were going to head for one of the discount appliance dealers to make comparisons. Nevertheless, Harry would patiently answer all their questions, even though it took more than a half hour at times. 

But when the couple would announce that they were going to look around at some other places, Harry had a standard spiel to deliver. "I know that you're looking for the best deal you can find," he would say. "I understand that, because I do the same thing myself. I know you'll probably go down to Discount Dan's to compare prices. I know I would. But after you've done that, I want you to think of one thing. When you buy from Discount Dan's, you get an appliance--a good one, I know, because he sells the same appliances we do. But when you buy here, you get one thing you don't get at Dan's. You get me. I come with the deal. I stand behind what I sell. I want you to be happy with what you buy. I've been here 30 years. I learned the business from my Dad, and I hope to be able to give the business over to my daughter and son-in-law in a few years. So you know one thing for sure--when you buy an appliance from me, you get me with the deal. That means I'll do everything I can to be sure you never regret doing business with me. That's a guarantee." Harry would then wish the couple well and give them a quart of ice cream in appreciation of their stopping at his store. 

This is how Bill Gove finishes the story: "Now," he says, "how far do you think that couple is going to get, with Harry's speech ringing in their ears and a quart of ice cream on their hands in Phoenix, when it's 110 degrees in the shade?" 

Bits and Pieces, November 1991.

* People are more likely to change their opinions if you state your beliefs than if you let the audience draw their own conclusions.

* Pleasant forms of distraction can increase the effectiveness of a persuasive appeal.

* Information, by itself, almost never produces permanent changes. In time, the effects of oratory and persuasive communication wear off.

* People are more likely to change when the message is repeated more than once, and when the desired conclusion is presented at the beginning or at the end of the presentation, instead of in the middle.

* A persuasive appeal is more effective when people are required to be active (for example, by discussing an issue or by having to exert oneself to get information) than when they are merely passive listeners.

* Attempts to change people by arousing guilt and fear rarely bring lasting internal change.

* People are most likely to be persuaded when they perceive that the communicator is in some way similar to themselves. A communicator's effectiveness is increased if he or she expresses some views that are also held by the audience.

* An audience is more likely to be persuaded if they perceive that the communicator has high credibility.

* If you assume that the audience might be hostile, it is most effective to present facts first (building a case), give more than one side of the argument, and present your position at the end.

* Communication is most effective when information comes through different channels (for example, through pictures, brochures, media "spots," and rational arguments), from different people who present the same message, and repeatedly over a period of time.

G. Collins, The Magnificent Mind, p. 193.

A man named La Piere sent out letters to the managers of 256 hotels and restaurants across the southern half of the U.S. He told them that he was planning to tour the south with two Chinese companions and he wanted to know ahead of time whether they would be served. Ninety-two percent of the businesses replied that they did not serve Chinese and that La Piere could save himself considerable embarrassment by not showing up with such undesirables. He wasn't surprised. Racial prejudice was a part of southern life in the 1930s, and this was long before a ban was placed on discrimination in interstate commerce. La Piere ignored the managers' advice, however. Accompanied by a Chinese man and his wife, he visited every one of the establishments that said they'd refuse service. Surprise! Ninety-nine percent of the places admitted the oriental couple, and almost all did so without a hassle...La Piere's study points up something that's a consistent finding in the field of persuasion--that a person may say he feels one thing, and then turn right around and do something completely different. 

Em Griffin, The Mindchangers, Tyndale House, 1976, p. 179.

From the rule of St. Benedict, Sixth Century A.D.--"If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him. 

Bits and Pieces, March, 1990.



People who are out to find fault seldom find anything else.


In Discipleship Journal, Don McCullough wrote: "John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder's performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun--until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between is hands and smacked his eye. Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted. 'You idiot! You've got center field so messed up that even I can't do a thing with it!'

Don McCullough, Discipleship Journal.

One evening several college students spread limburger cheese on the upper lip of a sleeping fraternity brother. Upon awakening the young man sniffed, looked around, and said, "This room stinks!" He then walked into the hall and said, "This hall stinks!" Leaving the dormitory he exclaimed, "The whole world stinks!" 

Today in the Word, May, 1990, MBI, p. 8.

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty of something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy. 

Wayne W. Dyer, "Your Erroneous Zones".



Too bad the only people who know how to run this country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair. 

George Burns.

How to Bury a Good Idea

It will never work,
We've never done it that way before.
We're doing fine without it.
We can't afford it.
We're not ready for it.
It's not our responsibility.

Bits & Pieces, June 23, 1994, p. 10.

Lord, deliver me from the lust of vindicating myself.  


Let the man who says it cannot be done not disturb the man doing it.  

Chinese proverb.

Being criticized is not a problem if you develop a positive way of dealing with it. Winston Churchill had the following words of Abe Lincoln framed on the wall of his office: "I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won't matter. If I'm wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won't make a difference." 

Bits & Pieces, April 29, 1993, pp. 15-16 .

Advice from Dr. Mitchell's life: Someone in his congregation pointed out several faults in him and his preaching. Instead of retaliating, or trying to defend himself, he looked at the woman and said, "If what you say is true, would you mind praying for me?"

Source Unknown.

Before we are too harsh in judging those scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day, let's stop and look at ourselves. All too many Christians today go to church to find fault, to gossip, and to criticize. Warren Wiersbe, in his book Angry People, wrote, "An incident in the life of Joseph Parker, the great British preacher, illustrates this tragic truth. He was preaching at the City Temple in London. After the service one of the listeners came up to him and said, 'Dr. Parker, you made a grammatical error in your sermon.' He then proceeded to point out the error to the pastor. Joseph Parker looked at the man and said, 'And what else did you get out of the message?' What a fitting rebuke!"

W. Wiersbe.

Don't write or say anything that you won't sign your name to. If you receive a negative, anonymous note, ignore it! If they're not willing to sign their name, it's not worth reading don't take heed to it. Like the pastor who received an anonymous note with nothing but the word "FOOL!" written on it. The next morning he got in church and said, "I've gotten many notes without signatures before but this is the first time I got one where someone forgot to write the note and just signed his name!"

Source Unknown.

It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they attacked the city. Phipps' navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships' cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the "saints." 

Daily Bread.

English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) learned that it was more important to please God than to please men. Knowing that he was doing what was honoring to the Lord kept him from discouragement when he was falsely accused by his enemies. At one point in his ministry, Whitefield received a vicious letter accusing him of wrongdoing. His reply was brief and courteous: "I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me. With love in Christ, George Whitefield." He didn't try to defend himself. He was much more concerned about pleasing the Lord. 

Daily Bread, August 18, 1992.

One of the rarest management skills -- and one of the most difficult to learn -- is how to criticize constructively. Constructive criticism shows consideration for other people's feelings and invites their suggestions and cooperation. When you can't figure out how to criticize something constructively, the wisest course is to keep your mouth shut until you do. Criticism that starts out by attacking people and putting them in the position of having to defend themselves often turns small problems into big ones. Usually the best way to start is with simple, friendly questions, queries that will give people a chance to explain their position without being offended and without getting excited. Then, after you've listened carefully, suggest the changes you'd like them to make -- whatever they are -- and see what they think of them.

Don't push for an immediate decision if it isn't necessary, or if there is still substantial disagreement. Ask them to think it over. Tell them you will too. Later, if you still believe in the changes you want to make, get together with them again. Explain that you've thought it over carefully and still believe the idea is worth a try. Tell them you feel an obligation to give it a fair chance, and you're counting on them to do the same.

One other important point; when you have to criticize or question someone's actions or ideas, always to it to his or her face. Discuss it with the person involved. Don't let him or her hear your criticism secondhand. 

Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991.

Grace Coolidge, the wife of President Calvin Coolidge, tried to surprise her husband by having his portrait painted. When it was finished, she hung it in the library of the White House. Later the same morning the President happened to walk into the library accompanied by a senator. They stared at the picture together in silence. Finally Coolidge commented quietly: "I think so, too." 

Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, p. 23.

One day a man met Spurgeon on the street, took off his hat and bowed, and said, "The Rev. Mr. Spurgeon--a great humbug!" Spurgeon took off his hat and replied, "Thank you for the compliment. I am glad to hear that I am a great anything!" 

W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 221.

Criticism is always difficult to accept, but if we receive it with humility and a desire to improve our character it can be very helpful. Only a fool does not profit when he is rebuked for his mistakes.

Several years ago I read a helpful article on this subject. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn form it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit. The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or countercriticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you need God's grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path.

When we are criticized, let's accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. He who profits from rebuke is wise. H.G.B.

In his men's seminar, David Simmons, a former cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, tells about his childhood home. His father, a military man, was extremely demanding, rarely saying a kind word, always pushing him with harsh criticism to do better. The father had decided that he would never permit his son to feel any satisfaction from his accomplishments, reminding him there were always new goals ahead. When Dave was a little boy, his dad gave him a bicycle, unassembled, with the command that he put it together. After Dave struggled to the point of tears with the difficult instructions and many parts, his father said, "I knew you couldn't do it." Then he assembled it for him. When Dave played football in high school, his father was unrelenting in his criticisms. In the backyard of his home, after every game, his dad would go over every play and point out Dave's errors. "Most boys got butterflies in the stomach before the game; I got them afterwards. Facing my father was more stressful than facing any opposing team." By the time he entered college, Dave hated his father and his harsh discipline. He chose to play football at the University of Georgia because its campus was further from home than any school that offered him a scholarship. After college, he became the second round draft pick of the St. Louis cardinal's professional football club. Joe Namath (who later signed with the New York Jets), was the club's first round pick that year. "Excited, "I telephoned my father to tell him the good news. He said, 'How does it feel to be second?'" Despite the hateful feelings he had for his father, Dave began to build a bridge to his dad. Christ had come into his life during college years, and it was God's love that made him turn to his father.

During visits home he stimulated conversation with him and listened with interest to what his father had to say. He learned for the first time what his grandfather had been like--a tough lumberjack known for his quick temper. Once he destroyed a pickup truck with a sledgehammer because it wouldn't start, and he often beat his son. This new awareness affected Dave dramatically. "Knowing about my father's upbringing not only made me more sympathetic for him, but it helped me see that, under the circumstances, he might have done much worse. By the time he died, I can honestly say we were friends." 

Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 171ff.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. 

Elbert Hubbard.

Winston Churchill exemplified integrity and respect in the face of opposition. During his last year in office, he attended an official ceremony. Several rows behind him two gentlemen began whispering. "That's Winston Churchill." "They say he is getting senile." "They say he should step aside and leave the running of the nation to more dynamic and capable men." When the ceremony was over, Churchill turned to the men and said, "Gentlemen, they also say he is deaf!" 

Barbara Hatcher, Vital Speeches, March 1, 1987.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. 

Harrison's Postulate.

It is much easier to be critical than to be correct. 


A young musician's concert was poorly received by the critics. The famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius consoled him by patting him on the shoulder and saying, 'Remember, son, there is no city in the world where they have a statue to a critic.'  

Haddon Robinson.

Grant me prudently to avoid him that flatters me, and to endure patiently him that contradicts me. 

Thomas `a Kempis.

As much as 77% of everything we think is negative and counterproductive and works against us. People who grow up in an average household hear "No" or are told what they can't do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18. Result: Unintentional negative programming. 

Shad Helmstetter in Homemade, January 1987.

The story is told of a judge who had been frequently ridiculed by a conceited lawyer. When asked by a friend why he didn't rebuke his assailant, he replied, "In our town lives a widow who has a dog. And whenever the moon shines, it goes outside and barks all night." Having said that, the magistrate shifted the conversation to another subject. Finally someone asked, "But Judge, what about the dog and the moon?" "Oh," he replied, "the moon went on shining--that's all."

Source Unknown.

The warning of Leviticus 19:17, "...thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbor, and not allow sin upon him," is preceded by warnings against spreading slander and nursing inner hatred You can easily determine, therefore, when you should criticize and when you shouldn't by asking yourself these three questions: (1) Am I motivated by an earnest desire for the welfare of the person I think needs correcting? (2) Am I going to face him honestly, but gently? (3) Do I find the task thoroughly disagreeable, or am I secretly getting some pleasure out of it?

He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help. 

A. Lincoln.

Most of us would rather be ruined by praise than helped by criticism. Nobody wants constructive criticism. It's all we can do to put up with constructive praise. 

M. McLaughlin.

You can't hold a man down without staying down with him. 

Booker T. Washington.

When Ronald Reagan succeeded Edmund G. Brown as governor of California in 1967, Brown told him: "There is a passage in War and Peace that every new governor with a big majority should tack on his office wall. In it Count Rostov, after weeks as the toast of elegant farewell parties, gallops off on his first cavalry charge and finds real bullets snapping at his ears. 'Why, they're shooting at me,' he says. 'Me, whom everyone loves!'" 

Detroit Free Press.

Monuments are often built with the stones thrown at people during their lifetimes. An example: Charles Spurgeon published several articles about heresy in the Baptist churches (the 'Downgrade' controversy). The Baptist Union had to deal with him, and did so. Yet upon his death an imposing statue of Spurgeon was placed at the entrance to the headquarters building of the Baptist Union.

Source Unknown.

Fault finding is not difficult. Isaac Murray illustrates this in his story on how a dog hitched to a lawn mower stopped pulling to bark at a passerby. The boy who was guiding the mower said, "Don't mind the dog, he is just barking for an excuse to rest. It is easier to bark than to pull the mower."

Isaac Murray.

Two taxidermists stopped before a window in which an owl was on display. They immediately began to criticize the way it was mounted. Its eyes were not natural; its wings were not in proportion with its head; its feathers were not neatly arranged; and its feet could be improved. When they had finished with their criticism, the old owl turned his head...and winked at them.

Source Unknown.

A survey asked mothers to keep track of how many times they made negative, compared with positive, comments to their children. They admitted that they criticized ten times for every time they said something favorable. A three-year survey in one city's schools found that the teachers were 75% negative. The study indicated that it takes four positive statements from a teacher to offset the effects of one negative statement to a child. 

Institute of Family Relations, in Homemade, Vol. 10, No. 12, December. 1986.

Joseph Parker stepped into the pulpit of the City Temple in London for his Thursday sermon and announced that he was under some trepidation that day because of a letter he had received. It seemed that a gentleman wrote to tell Parker that he would be in the congregation that day for the express purpose of making a philosophical analysis of the sermon. After a long pause, Parker said, "I may add that my trepidation is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the gentleman spells philosophical with an 'f.'" 

Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, Moody, 1984, p. 214.

Constructive criticism is an invaluable source of information for those who accept it. Quite often we spend more time justifying, excusing or rationalizing an error, than in trying to understand and benefit from criticism. When we are non-defensive we become aware that constructive criticism is a real compliment to us. The person offering it is usually uncomfortable in doing so, but if he is willing to endure the discomfort in order to help us, we should listen and appreciate his suggestions. He runs the risk of arousing our enmity, but he cares enough for our welfare to take this chance. 

Rohrer, Hibler and Replogle, in Homemade, September 1988.

The National Association of Suggestion Systems, a 900-member trade organization based in Chicago, says a quarter of the 1.3 million suggestions received last year by its member companies were used. The result? Companies were able to save over $1.25 billion and awarded employees $128 million for their bright ideas. 

Management Digest, September 1989.

PPM is a technique for discussing or criticizing ideas. The basic rule: You must state two plus points before you can state a minus. This counteracts negativism by forcing you to focus on the positive side on an idea first. In group situations, PPM encourages shy people to offer their ideas without being afraid of a barrage of criticism. 

Eric M. Bienstock in Homemade, November 1985.

If you are a Christian, you can expect folks to criticize, but you ought to live so nobody will believe them.

A young boy complained to his father that most of the church hymns were boring to him--too far behind the times, tiresome tunes and meaningless words. His father put an end to his son's complaints by saying, "If you think you can write better hymns, then why don't you?" The boy went to his room and wrote his first hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." The year was 1690, the teenager was Isaac Watts. "Joy to the World" is also among the almost 350 hymns written by him.

Source Unknown.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave people to win them.  

Ralph W. Emerson.