Relationships

Don’t Criticize Me and Expect Me to Like You

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, told me when he called the other day that last week he felt uncomfortable. He had not been in ill health, but he received some criticism that he wasn’t expecting, and it left a bite mark that was slow to heal. Usually, my old neighbor is so thick skinned that nothing that folks challenge him on disturbs him.

Ed had carefully prepared an assessment of crop yields using a particular fertilizer from his personal experience with the product. He was asked to give it as a brief presentation at an agriculture forum. Most present at the conference thanked him and complimented him on his findings. Ed was pleased with himself until a person gave him an appraisal of his talk that was highly negative, and then another person joined his critic and between the two of them, they soundly rejected his observations. Ed was unprepared for the total dismissal of his presentation by the two of them. He left feeling not only uncomfortable but dispirited.

We both agreed when we are giving criticism it doesn’t seem that it is the least bit, mean-spirited, but it cuts like a dull knife when we are receiving it. Could it be that most of us are naturally good at finding fault with what others do or fail to do? In our relationships with other folks, are we most often the critic, rather than the encourager?

One topic in the Bible that often gets criticized is prayer. Some estimate prayer to be a pointless exercise. They feel it doesn’t bring the results wanted. Others have an evaluation of prayer that demands a proper, exact way to pray and with the precise words one must say.

Christians often pray the Lord’s Prayer. In Luke we are told Jesus was praying and when he finished one of his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus told them: “When you pray, say; Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Not only did Jesus tell his disciples what to say in prayer but how to pray. Prayer is a relationship between God and believers in Jesus Christ His Son. God invites and commands us to come to him in prayer which is speaking with God in words and thoughts. Jesus used a story about friends to illustrate trust and boldness are needed when we pray. Jesus said that a friend could come to another friend at midnight disturbing his friend when he is in bed with his door barred to borrow loaves. The one friend will get up and help his friend even though it is late because he is a friend. We can trust friends to help us when we seek them out and knock at their door.

Jesus said not only is God like a friend willing to help us but also like a father. As parents, we give good gifts to our children so how much more is God our heavenly Father ready to extend to us the best gifts possible to us when we pray.

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Raymond Maher
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