“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism,” once quipped the late Norman Vincent Peale, who was known for his classic “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
Even Peale realized that positive thinking and perpetual praise it is not enough. There are times in our lives when we all need to make changes. Modify our behavior. And make correction in the direction our life is taking.
Yesterday, I taught the Bible class at the Seminole church in Tampa about parent-child relationships from the book of Proverbs. The wise man reminds mothers and fathers they have an important role in forming the character of their child through teaching, training, admonition as well as correction.
A fool despises his father’s instruction,
But he who receives correction is prudent.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Corrective discipline is not pleasant. But it is needful. However, the challenge is correcting the parenting skills of mothers and fathers. Unfortunately, too many parents not only reject the teaching on corporal punishment but sorely neglect correcting their children’s behavior.
I suppose it’s because adults don’t like correction either. “Don’t tell me how to raise my children,” they retort. The same folks also rejoin, “Don’t tell me how to live my life.”
Well, Solomon also had something to say to adults who disdain correction.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid.
Correction can come from many different sources. If you have a close friend who loves you enough to offer correction, be thankful. They care about you. They’re trying to help you. And possibly save you from disaster. “If someone corrects you,” observed Nouman Ali Khan, “and you feel offended, then you have an ego problem.”
Preachers, pastors and Bible teachers have a wonderful opportunity to help others correct their lives through God’s Word. The apostle Paul affirmed that
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
The Bible tells us what is right. What’s not right. How to get right. And how to stay right.
When you hear a sermon or sit in a Bible class, listen with that thought in mind. Be willing to accept and apply the Truth to your life. If the Bible shines the light on a flaw in my life, then humility and love for the Lord ought to result in correction.
Of course, I don’t have to wait for someone else to correct me, I can learn the art of self-correction. This requires personal examination (2 Cor. 13:5). Demands honesty. And calls for me to see myself as God sees me. It’s difficult. Because we tend to think we’re better than we are. Or we make excuses for our shortcomings.
Also, a word of advice when correcting others. Do it in the spirit of Galatians 6:1-2. Be gentle. Be kind. Approach it with the realization that you too have faults. Be the kind of person once described by famed basketball coach John Wooden, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
Finally, in the words of my favorite author anonymous, “Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how you respond to correction that shows the level of your character.”
-Ken Weliever, The Preacherman