The Best Advice My Doctor Ever Gave

The Cure for a Critical Spirit

Have you ever felt like there’s a lack of justice in the world? I bet you have. In fact, you may be feeling like that this week.


Many of us feel like things should be different in the world. Things should be more fair, easier. Often, we feel like we’re the only ones who are right and everyone else is wrong. Eventually we decide something must be done.

In fact, we can get to the point where we begin finding fault with everyone. This includes our spouses, our children, co-workers, the people at church, including the pastor. Before we know it we’re the only ones in the world who are right and everyone else is wrong.

I’ve got some news for you. It’s harsh.  Before you hit the unsubscribe button, please understand that although it’s painful, it actually turns out to be good medicine.

When you’ve got a problem with everyone, chances are you’re the problem.

I’m even going to go out on a limb and expound a bit more. I’d be willing to bet that you’re feeling it right now. Maybe you’re feeling it in the form of a strained marriage. Perhaps your child isn’t talking to you or things are a bit strained at work.

What happens is God uses other people as mirrors to help us see our own faults. He wants the faults of others to remind us of our own need for Him. That’s not to say we should get out our faultfinders and start waving them around others like the people at the airport security. The reverse is true. When we find ourselves finding faults with others, especially our loved ones, He wants us to be reminded how much we need him.

When we start seeing ourselves and our own need for grace and stop focusing on how others need to improve, an amazing shift takes place.  All of the ice around us begins to melt and we’re able to get back in the game.  Frozen relationships thaw.  Icebergs in our own hearts begin to melt.

You can’t go through life looking through a magnifying glass and see the big picture at the same time.

Imagine if you held up a newspaper article about an inch from your face and tried to read it. For that matter, try holding anything one inch away from your face and reading it. Unless you have really unusual eyesight, it’s impossible.

Focusing on details, especially faults, is not a bad thing. But if you want to see the big picture, you have to step back and take it in.

We know we shouldn’t go through life focusing on everyone else’s mistakes and sins, but if we’re not careful, it’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if we’re creative. Maybe you’ve been doing this for so long you don’t even realize it. Relax, it’s human nature.

Maybe you’ve even been praying for those people and asking God to change them. Wonderful!  Or you’ve been wondering “Will they ever get it?” Or “Don’t they realize how this is effecting our relationship?” In your most desperate moments you may even be wondering if they’re going to heaven.

To make things even more uncomfortable, God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers for the other person. In fact, sometimes it seems like things are getting worse. That very well could be.

Remember, at the end of the day, you can’t change anyone but yourself.

Let’s illustrate. Say you’re praying for the person in the cubicle next to you at work. You don’t just pray for them once, but quite often, especially when you are upset with them. This has been going on for months, but nothing has changed.

Maybe God isn’t looking to change someone else, maybe he’s trying to change you. Maybe when God allowed that person to criticize you last week it was so that you would change. Maybe the reason God gave you the kids or the spouse He did is because He doesn’t want you to change them, He wants you use them to change you.

Maybe God isn’t trying to change someone else, He’s trying to change you!

That may sound really harsh, but the truth is its good news! When all of the finger pointing stops and we focus on changing ourselves, wonderful changes begin.

Your constant criticism of others isn’t a reflection of them it’s a reflection of what is going on in your own heart. In the sarcastic but true words of a pastor/friend, “Prayer doesn’t change anything, it changes you!”

Of course we all know prayer can change lots of things. However, my friend may be onto something. Our prayers are meant to remind us that God wants to change us.

Whenever I find myself condemning others I ask myself this question. Who am I to exact a price for a penalty that has already been paid for in full?

God may never change the people around you, but if he does He may just begin with you. The great news is you don’t have to wait! You can start right now where ever you are.

You can’t change the way others act, think or speak but you can change the way you respond.

The teenaged child who’s rocking your world right now and pushing the boundaries is a gift! Rather than wishing away the next five years, what if you simply start responding differently? What if you continue to tell her that you love her, despite her bad behavior.  Better yet, while she’s misbehaving.

God loves you enough to not leave you the way He found you! He is not only in the process of changing you, he wants the transformation to be as extreme as the difference between night and day. If you’ve been critical of others it’s not because you’re a fiend, it’s because you are growing and learning what it feels like to be effected by other people’s bad behavior.

The sooner you accept the diagnosis that you’re the one with the problem, the sooner you’ll become a Dr. who’s able to help others.

“I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:32 NLT

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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