Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fasting from Criticism

"The Lord continues to deal with me about my critical spirit, convicting me that I have been wrong to judge any person or situation ("Do not judge, or you too will be judged... Matthew 7:1-2). One morning last week He gave me an assignment: for one day I was to go on a 'fast' from criticism. I was not to criticise anybody about anything.

Into my mind crowded all the usual objections. 'But then what happens to valued judgements... how could society operate without standards and limits?....

For the first half of the day, I simply felt a void, almost as if I had been wiped out as a person. This was especially true at lunch wih (my family).. several topics came up about which I had definite opinions. I listened to the others and kept silent. Barbed comments on the tip of my tongue about certain leaders were suppressed. In our talkative family no one seemed to notice.

Bemused I noticed that my comments were not missed. The fedreral government, the judicial system, and the institutional church could apparaently get along fine without my penetrating observations..." (Catherine Marshall)

Marshall goes on to say that letting go of criticism gave space for creativity, and discovered that her critical spirit had stifled the flow of ideas and creativity in her own mind and spirit.

I found this very challenging, and could relate to a lot of it. As a regular blogger, there's a temptation to believe that the world needs my 'penetrating observations'. It doesn't, it's just me that needs to download them somewhere. If someone else chooses to read them, then that's free group therapy for my need to be recognised, except that it's not therapeutic: it actually feeds the need to download my thoughts in public, rather than keep them to myself.

For info, the source for this is Spiritual Classics by Richard Foster, which is a selection of reading from different authors with commentary and questions for reflection. I'm trying at the moment to read one excerpt every Monday morning, rather than ploughing straight into work. Plenty of food for thought. Even better, the label on the front reminds me that I got it at an 80% discount...


  1. >I got it at an 80% discount...

    Hmm. So it was YOU who caused the booktrade crisis.

    Responding to the quote (not guessing where you are), my reflection on the risk of thinking that we are hyper-critical is that to become hyper self-critical is an overreaction that then need its own second look.


  2. I take the point, David - and I should act on it myself! But ... we do appreciate your observations, and the opportunity to read them :-)