Several years ago, I ministered what I thought was an excellent message on fear. I went into the Greek and Hebrew and expounded dozens of key scriptures. I’m a preacher so preaching well is important to me.
Afterwards, I had a great sense of achievement and chatted to people with satisfaction. My husband and I always give each other feedback after we minister so that we can learn and grow. When I got into the car to go home, I was sure that he would commend my message and we would praise God together.
The harsh truth
I could not have been more wrong! “How on earth was anyone supposed to get free from fear today?” he asked as I fastened my seatbelt. “As ministers, we’re supposed to equip the saints. Today, people’s heads got filled, but their hearts remained the same. Those who arrived bound left the same way.”
I tried for a while to defend myself, but he was right. I had preached about fear, yet I had not told the people how to be free from fear. I felt terrible.
My husband’s feedback that day taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in ministry. But it came with a price tag – a painful rebuke that left me reeling with disappointment.
“Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” Proverbs 6:23
The Bible sometimes uses vocabulary that isn’t common in everyday conversation. As a result, we can read the words but we may miss the meaning. Let’s look at what this verse is telling us.
The word ‘reproof’ means rebuke and ‘instruction’ here doesn’t refer to one person explaining to another how something is done – it means correction. In fact, the New Living Translation interprets reproofs of instruction as ‘corrective discipline’. This is the kind of reprimand a parent will give their child when they have misbehaved.
Blessing in disguise
Believe it or not, the Bible is telling us that correction is the route to a great life. Rebukes help us understand our mistakes and change our behaviour so that we can become the people we need to be to fulfil our potential.
Most of us will have experienced correction as an adult. Perhaps your spouse has pointed out your inadequacies or a friend has exposed your secret faults. Maybe a pastor has highlighted an area for growth or a relative has revealed your weaknesses.
The truth is that not many of us like having our attitudes or behaviour challenged. We don’t jump up and down and celebrate! We feel under attack and defend ourselves.
If it’s for my good, why am I so defensive?
When an army is under attack, it must defend itself. A fort is built to defend a city from enemy raids. So why is it that many of us react as though we are under siege when friends, colleagues, bosses, leaders, pastors or spouses speak into our lives?
I love the lesson we learn from Isaac’s wife Rebekah in Genesis. She was expecting her first child, but her pregnancy wasn’t going well. Perhaps she was in pain or maybe she was unduly tired, we don’t know. What we do know is that Rebekah inquired of the Lord:
“If all is weell then why am I like this?” Genesis 25:22
Perhaps it’s time for us to ask God: “If correction is meant for my good, why do I recoil on the inside every time anyone tries to comment on my life or behaviour?” “Why do I become aggressive or critical of the person who is trying to shine a light on my ways?”
It’s time to be free
People are defensive when trust has been broken so, or when words have been used as weapons. We can’t handle feedback when negative comments confirm a shaky self-image. If you want to be ready for your destiny, it is time to allow God to dig deep and heal the foundations of your heart. Why not get hold of our books or even better come to Healed for Life – see www.jonaughton.com for details. It’s a journey of truth but the outcome is freedom, stability and security.