October 21 – Everybody Plays the Fool Sometimes

Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating. Proverbs 12:1 AMP

Nobody gets it right every single time. On the contrary, we all have much to learn on a daily basis. No matter how old we are, school is constantly in session. We just have to be willing to admit we don’t know everything and be able to receive constructive criticism, and blame, in some cases.

Back when I was managing retail stores, my boss challenged me one day. He gave me three tasks that would have taken a couple of days each to complete, but he required I get them done in the remaining three hours of my shift. It was nuts!

Up until that part of my training, I was doing pretty well. Nothing I faced was outside the scope of a little hard work and a dab of common courtesy. But the assignment afore mentioned was ridiculous, unfair and absolutely impossible…I thought.

Of course I spent more time on what I couldn’t do because of lack of time and expertise than I did on the three tasks themselves.

The next day, my boss questioned my unsatisfactory results and let me squirm a bit before he demonstrated how to “get the job done!” To date, that moment in my life ranks high on my list of “game changers” because I was so sure that it could not be done and I was so very wrong. I played the fool that day.

I didn’t know how to empower people. If I couldn’t do it myself or hire it done, or boss folks around because I was paying them, I was dead in the water. Empowerment requires skill in the art of personal limitations, confidence in self-worth and wisdom of task individuality.

Before that day, watching my boss walk up to busy associates (that’s how he referred to his employees) and invite them to “take a look” at a little opportunity with him that “we had” that needed attention, I considered such action beggarly and weak. But I also had no clue about running a multi-million dollar enterprise that provided employment for close to two hundred “associates.”

Thank God I had sense enough to not play the fool twice and quit that day. And today, maybe someone will read this proverbial story just in time and let what they don’t know override what they think they know . . .and maybe they’ll play the fool just long enough to get the wisdom and grow thereby.

October 2 – Constructive Criticism

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Proverbs 9:8

I was a bit of a feisty girl growing up. (Not that I’m not now! <wink>) My husband tends to blame it on all of my small-town girls basketball training (thanks, Coach), but it’s probably a bit more than that.  Yes, I know it’s the original cop-out, but Adam and Eve messed it all up for everybody, right?!

I remember clearly a conversation my daddy had with me one evening.  He always liked to talk to us in his living room chair when an “issue” came up.  I sat on the living room steps right by him, expecting that I was in for a long talk. Now I can’t remember what the entire discussion was about, but the crux of the matter stayed with me.  There was a flaw in my character that was creating a problem for me, and dad wanted to get it nailed down.  Though I recall distinctly that he continued to focus on this ONE area, all I could hear was “Jennifer, you’ve got LOTS of BIG problems! You can’t do anything right.” Looking back, I see how calm and insightful he was, and how utterly patient with my consistent rebuttals of “why this,” and “why that.”

Let’s face it.  (It’s taken me awhile.)  I was horrible at receiving constructive criticism.  I think my dad probably held his breath watching me grow up those last few teenage years, because he obviously saw it.  And to this day (don’t ask Lorenzo) I struggle with responding to even a syrupy-sweet corrective comment as a “wise man.” And frankly, I’ve only gotten somewhat better because I now have young adult children who stink at the same thing occasionally. (And they always feel free to call me on it, of course!)

So, reading this Proverb, I am challenged. I want to hear direction and correction from friends, family, or God, and be able to say, simply, “okay.” “Okay, I hear you.” “Okay, I see that.” And “okay, wow, so glad you love me so much!”

We are the “wise one” to heed and receive instruction, because it only makes us better and stronger!

Since I might be the only one needing this pep talk, put me on your prayer list.  “Feisty” meeting “Okay” is no small feat!

Jennifer 🙂