Criticism


One of Aesop’s fables tells of an old man and his son bringing a donkey to market. Passing some people on the way, they heard one remark, “Look at that silly pair, walking when they could be riding.”

The old man thought about it, then he and the boy got on the donkey and continued on their way. Soon they passed another group. “Look at that lazy pair,” a voice said, “breaking the back of that poor donkey.”

At that the old man slipped off, but soon heard more criticism. “How terrible! The old man has to walk while the boy gets to ride.”

They changed places, but soon heard, “What an awful thing! The big, strong man is riding, and making the little boy walk!”

The man came up with a final solution. He and the boy carried the donkey on a pole between them. But as soon as they crossed a bridge, the donkey broke loose, fell into the river, and drowned.

Aesop’s conclusion: “You can’t please everyone.”

I love what Dr. Ed Young says about criticism. If one person says you’re a donkey, ignore him. If two say you’re a donkey, don’t sweat it. But if three people say you’re a donkey, it’s time to buy a saddle.

Rarely is all criticism valid. But rarely is it all invalid, either. Knowing how to respond to criticism is one of the marks of a mature believer.

The Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).


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