Thesis: Criticism cannot be avoided and it always hurts--respond well!
1. It was a great moment in the history of Israel--God was going to select Israel's first king.
a. Samuel gathered all Israel at Mizpah.
b. Selection process began (20-24).
c. Everybody was happy .... or were they? (25-27a).
2. Saul is best remembered for his willful disobedience.
a. As a result God said he could not remain as king.
b. However, here he looks pretty good (27).
c. When criticized we are faced with a choice--how will I respond?
3. This AM we want to do two things:
a. Discuss two myths about criticism.
b. Look to Saul as an example of how to respond to criticism.
I. TWO MYTHS ABOUT CRITICISM.
A. Criticism doesn't need to hurt.
1. You've heard the saying, "Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never harm me."
2. Not true! Words hurt! "Constructive criticism" a misnomer.
3. That's Paul's exhortation in Eph. 4:29 is so important.
B. Criticism can be avoided.
1. Winston Churchill: "The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing."
2. Winston Churchill was wrong! You'd still be criticized for saying, doing, and being nothing!
3. You will be criticized--the question is ..... how will you respond?
II. HOW TO RESPOND TO CRITICISM.
A. Do not lose your cool when you're criticized.
1. First impulse--retaliate! ("fight fire w/ fire").
a. Very satisfying response.
1) Illust. When your mate begins to point out some of your faults what do you do? Say: "You know honey, you're right, I really need to work on that." NO! Fight fire with fire!
2) Fighting back feels so good (2 Sam. 16:9-10).
b. What did Saul do? -- "He held his peace."
2. Tremendous strength is found in keeping your cool in the face of criticism.
a. "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:10).
b. Illust. Jesus--"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Pet. 2:23).
B. Continue to do what is right when you're criticized.
1. Saul did! (1 Sam. 11:1-11).
a. Nahash the Ammonite threatened Jabesh-Gilead.
1) Men of J-G asked for a covenant (peace treaty).
2) Nahash: "Right eyes!"; JG: "Give us 7 days."
3) Word gets around & Israel begins to despair.
b. "What's wrong w/ the people; why are they weeping?" (11:5) 1) Spirit comes; kills oxen; musters army; defeats Ammonites.
2) POINT: Criticism didn't stop him from doing what he knew was right!
2. We must not allow criticism to paralyze us.
a. Some criticism will prove to be wrong!
1) Illust. President of Yale once said about a presidential candidate: "If this man is elected we shall surely see our wives and daughters reduced to prostitutes, sobriety dishonored, and decency in our land will become an outcast" (of T. Jefferson).
2) Illust. Day after Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, a Chicago editor wrote: "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterance of a man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as President of the United States."
b. Some criticism will prove to be right!
1) That can either help us rather or hinder us.
2) In every criticism there is at least a grain of truth.
3) THE OYSTER:
There was once an oyster whose story I tell,
Who found that sand had gotten under his shell;
Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain,
For oysters have feelings although they're so plain.
Now, did he berate the working of fate
Which had led him to such a deplorable state?
Did he spend endless hours in self-pitying reflection?
Did he curse out the government, call for an election?
No, as he lay on the shelf, he said to himself;
"If I cannot remove it, I'll improve it."
So the years rolled by as the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate destiny--oyster stew!
And this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,
Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow.
Now--this tale has a moral--for isn't it grand
What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand?
What couldn't we do if we'd only begin
With all the things that get under our skin?
C. Show kindness to your critics (11:12-15).
1. "Turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5:39).
2. "Heap burning coals on his head" (Rom. 12:20).
1. Expect criticism.
a. If you expect to do anything significant in this world you will be criticized.
b. If you don't expect to do anything significant, you will still be criticized!
2. Benefit from it.
3. Forget it.
(Adapted from an article in Image magazine by Silas Shotwell.)