How do you respond when someone corrects you? How do you react if someone points out that you are doing something wrong? I remember a time when my Dad and I were painting a shed at the side of our house. I must have been 10 or 11 years old. I had never really painted that much before. So Dad asked me (or told me) that he needed help to paint this shed. I thought that would be fun. I took the paintbrush and began to paint away as I thought best.
But my Dad stopped me a couple of times with some painting tips. “Hold the brush this way. Careful when you get near an edge.” Inside, I was getting angrier and angrier. I thought things like “How dare he tell me how to paint.” Finally, after about the 4th or 5th painting tip, I snapped. “Can’t I do anything right?” I hollered. Dad was taken aback a little but then he calmly responded. “Yes you do things right. But I am just trying to help you learn some basics about painting.” Eventually we got on and painted that shed together.
Why was I so touchy about getting tips or even correction? I think it’s because a correction is a response to something incorrect. We don’t like to admit when we might be incorrect. We like doing things our way. Yet such an approach is ultimately foolish. It doesn’t take into account the reality of who we are.
I know this might be news to some, but nobody’s perfect. We all have areas where we need to grow, learn and change course. So if we conclude that our way is the only way, we are just setting ourselves up for failure.
Proverbs 13:18 says “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” Do we heed correction? I’m not talking about the taunts of a heckler or the blustering of some hyper-critical person. I am talking about thoughtful, necessary, helpful information that will correct some behavior or action that is wrong; some behavior that hurts others; some habit that causes long term harm to ourselves.
Do we pay careful attention to such correction? Do we consider the guts it takes for someone to offer this correction? Deep down, the issue ties into the unhealthy pride in our hearts. It says ‘we’re right and everyone else is wrong. No one can tell me what to or how to do it.”
How can we then learn to heed correction? Here’s the thought from this morning’s reading:
“Deliberately submit yourself systematically to correction from others. The only path to become not a lightweight but a person of honor is the formative discipline of submitting one’s ego to another self. You must lose your pride to find it rightfully. This can happen inside the church if we take vows to submit to the counsel and instruction of wise leaders. This can happen in marriage if we make it safe for our spouse to correct us. This can happen when we give Christian friends the right to speak to us regularly about our flaws and sins. It can happen but only if you choose for correction to be part of your life.” (Tim Keller – Songs of Jesus – May 21 – 141).
“Lord God, I confess that I can immediately get defensive about correction. I don’t like the energy it takes to face some hard truths about myself or my pride. But protect me from thinking I am untouchable or beyond reproach. Help me to see Your correction especially as the courageous gift of a loving Father.”