Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unsolicited Advice and Criticism

Sometimes, we Christian women can be the meanest creatures.  Notice I said "we."  I'm referring to something that I'm sure I've unknowingly done in the past....perhaps even the very recent past....hey, I'm middle-aged and my memory is fuzzy.

What I'm talking about is sharing unsolicited advice and/or criticism to younger (spiritual or chronological) sisters in Christ.  I'm sure most of us are just trying to be "helpful" but many times we unknowingly devastate our sister's morale over silly things that burn up as wood, hay, and stubble in the grand scheme of things.  Seriously, unless your sister in Christ is living in some sort of sin (and no, being tacky is not a moral sin) or gravely endangering their or their family's health, it may be best to be most cases.  I know that I personally probably need to start keeping a better watch out for this in my own life.

Our daughter (21) will in the next few years be leaving the nest to perhaps start her own family.  My ideas about how things should be done are not necessarily shared by her, just as my own mother and I differ in many ways.  I have even told our daughter that when it comes right down to it, it doesn't matter if I think her kids are dressed tacky (though I will pipe up about modesty issues lol) or if her house is "dirty" by my standards or if she feeds her family processed vs. all organic food.  What I care about is that she raise up her children in the Lord and that she loves and respects her husband.  Yes, breast feeding is better than bottle feeding, but it's not our business to point that out to everyone with whom we come into contact.  Yes, cloth diapers are better for the environment, the economy, etc., but it's not a "moral" issue to use disposable ones.   Yes, it best to vacuum everyday or iron 3/4 of your clothes like my sister does :), but a little bit of dirt or a wrinkle here or there is not the end of the world.

Granted, there are times when it is necessary to speak up, particularly if the younger sister has come to us for guidance, but that instruction should come with a spirit of gentleness, remembering our own inadequacies.  These little things mentioned above are just not as paramount as the deeper issues of Titus 2, such as be reverent, loving our husbands and children, being self-controlled and pure, etc.

If, however, you find yourself on the flip side and are subjected to statements like "You know, you really shouldn't ...." consider what you're being criticized for, ask yourself is it something that really matters to God or is it just a matter of preference?  These are things that have to be weighed very carefully, as it is easy to become overly defensive when criticized.  Whatever the issue is, great or small, take it before the Lord in prayer and search the Scriptures.  Thank the person for their concern and make adjustments when necessary.


Craig said...

First of all Ruthie, I've been following you on twitter (@CraigBelieves) – and not one time have I commented on your blog. I’ve realized that that was really rude – so first, a sorry – I’m sorry I haven’t commented sooner – please forgive me. as for your post today – it is so full of wisdom. I heart the biblical way of those who are older nurturing and helping those who are younger in the church. It's always a little more difficult when the younger one happens to be your own. But I see such wisdom in your words – wisdom with kindness and love – the best kind of wisdom. Your daughter is fortunate to have you as a mama. God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours this day Ruthie.

~Ruthie Sisemore~ said...

Aw, thanks so much for the encouragement! That means a lot :)