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Critics vs. Cheerleaders

June 15, 2010

image by Dan Waber

The more I live my life, the more I see the need for cheerleaders, and not critics.

I remember in my junior year of college, I wrote a fiction piece my Creative Writing professor loved. He read it to the class and at the end of the year, I won the Fiction Award at the end of the year ceremony for the English department. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to submit the piece to our school’s literary magazine.

I was excited to contribute, but to my surprise, the lady in charge of submissions wrote an email back saying there was no story and no chance of it being published. She said she couldn’t believe that I submitted it. She offered zero feedback on how to make it better. Her criticism instilled a lot of fear in me, regardless if she was right.

I was confused and began to think, did my professor have his head on straight? Or am I just a loser who doesn’t know how to write?

And once in a blue moon, that lady’s words still come back to haunt me.

Then there have been people in my life who’ve done nothing but cheer me on. They’ve intentionally come along side me to speak the truth in love and encourage me to get back up. They’ve given of themselves and said: “You can do it! God has great plans for you! Keep fixing your eyes ahead…” Even if there was criticism on their part, it was constructive and done in love. It built me up. Those people are who I desire to be like. Those who have shown me by example, how to cheer someone else on.

It’s a daily choice to consider the cheerleaders in your life, and not the critics. It’s way too easy to cling to the latter. And the negative thoughts just start flying! It’s also way too easy to be the actual critic. God created us to live in community with one another where we will grow and thrive and part of that includes surrounding ourselves with people who will lift us up, whether that’s in our relationship with Christ, friendships, career, parenthood, or whatever.

Well after my submission upset, God began to give me clarity in my writing dreams. I started writing non-fiction articles and Bible studies for major publishing companies and discovered that non-fiction was where my heart beat the most. His grace allowed my writing career to really take off and today, my passion is to cheer on other people as best I can- while still battling the criticism I have in my heart at times towards others and myself.

Is it difficult for you to let go of another person’s criticism? What do you appreciate most about those who have cheered you on?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:46 am

    Why are we so attuned to the voices of the critics in our lives? By listening to them, we’re un/subconsciously giving them permission to shape our future. In first grade, I received a “needs improvement” grade for “plays well with others.” To this day, I find myself living alone, working alone and doing life alone and wonder if that grade so long ago causes me to subconsciously choose independent activity. Crazy really. When all we hear are critics, we need to remember that we should most adhere to the Voice of Truth, who envelopes us in his love and grace.

  2. June 15, 2010 10:54 am

    I think we believe lies. Since we are fallen, sinful human beings we gravitate towards lies rather than truth. I like what you said about how we give the voices of critics “permission”. Isn’t that so true?

    Isn’t it crazy what we remember from childhood that still affects us now? And I’m sure your grade was based all on one person’s opinion and maybe you didn’t know the whole story. Who knows, but you are right, we must continue to submit to Truth. And know that we were created to live in community and not isolation.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts Amy!

  3. June 17, 2010 9:53 am

    Being critical without being constructive is one of the most damaging things we can do to others. Listing to un-constructive criticism is one of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves. When we offer criticism we must be careful that our words should be rooted in truth to build others up (Eph 4:25-26; 1 Thess 5:11). When we receive criticism, we must filter it through the truth of God’s word (Mk 12:14; Gal 5:25; Eph 4:20-24).

  4. June 17, 2010 12:25 pm

    You’ve addressed Critics and Cheerleaders, but I would add a third category to your list of C words: Cardiologist. As you’ve already pointed out, critics only show up when you’ve done something wrong, and that’s all you hear from them. Cheerleaders are there to encourage you and cheer you on, but sometimes we need correction.

    The cardiologist cares about what is in your heart, and isn’t afraid to critique when you need it – but only for the ultimate purpose of building you up (2 Cor. 13:10; Eph. 4:29). The cardiologist will use the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17), both to encourage you and to perform spiritual surgery every now and then. This is a true friend. The cardiologist cares about you enough both to cheer and critique you. Critics and Cheerleaders both will fail to help us in the long run, but the Cardiologist will examine your heart and do what’s best for you in the long run.

    I know that you weren’t making the point that we should avoid critique in your post, I just wanted to you to consider this third category so that a false dichotomy isn’t created between those who critique and those who cheer – it is necessary for a true friend to do both.

  5. June 17, 2010 2:18 pm

    I know I mentioned this about the cheerleader, “Even if there was criticism on their part, it was constructive and done in love. It built me up.”

    But you took it even further- as I didn’t make that a point in a short blog post. Interesting and insightful and thanks for pointing it out so there isn’t a dichotomy. A friend who examines the heart is rare to find.. I’m thankful I have them in my life.

    To me, that is exactly what defines someone who cheers you on- they aren’t afraid to critique you constructively and they build you up in love. Good thoughts!

  6. Josef Sefton permalink
    June 19, 2010 10:46 pm

    Thanks for all the hard work you are putting into your website Samantha. Warm congratulations to you and Joshua – and God’s blessing – for the fast approaching birth of your precious baby.

    Jesus Christ is our steadfast joy-bringing cheerleader, caring compassionate cardioligist and when necessary our constructive critic.
    What a unique, precious, true and faithful Friend He is to us. We shall always bless Your exalted name LORD Jesus, our precious Prince of purity!

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