Have you ever been told that you’re wasting your talent? Or that the guy you’re smitten with is NOT husband material and you should run for the hills?Or that you aren’t giving enough effort or being too lazy to maximise on your potential? Have you ever seen the glaringly obvious face of disappointment looking straight at YOU?
Are the people who these criticisms came from still your friends or people you respect and look up to? Or did you just take the easy way out and explain their concern away to jealousy or misunderstanding? Perhaps you even went as far as to thenceforth disliking them…
Well, I am horrifically guilty of keeping my distance from people who don’t agree with the way I live my life and my style or who challenge my abilities. I build friend groups with people who think I’m pretty awesome, love my ‘free-spiritedness’ and adventurous nature and, many of whom, eat out the palm of my hands when I come up with some ridiculous rationalisation…
Because, I have become an expert at rationalising literally anything — like quitting a permanent job without having another one in line, being involved with a man who is an obvious, impulsive cheater, or not getting an A in my homework or tests when I very well could get an A+. Basically, I’m just the master of creating excuses. But when someone comes along and calls me out on it, well let’s just say I rationalise that away too — that Italian teacher is only blaming me of being disinterested because she doesn’t realise I have ADD, that coach is too harsh because he doesn’t understand my struggle with fitness because of my chronic fatigue, that man is too insensitive because he doesn’t care about the scars on my heart that make me fear intimacy, that friend only THINKS I am unambitious because she has no imagination.
Yes — My tendency towards making up excuses has led me to be a hypochondriac (diagnosing myself with every possible illness including terminal ones), a damsel in distress, a heap of emotional baggage and, sometimes, far less of the person I could really, truly be. All because I don’t allow Nathan’s into my life.
HOLD UP! What is a Nathan? Soooooooo random.
Well, Nathan was a prophet in the Old Testament. I was recently reading a passage from 2 Samuel 7:1-17 about David’s desire to build a house for the ark of God because it was residing in a mere tent. But only when David approached Nathan, who had direct communication with God, was he told that God did not want a house built for Himself; God wanted something else. Basically Nathan stopped David in his tracks and made it clear that what he was planning to do and how he wanted his desire to be manifested, was completely WRONG!!!!!
Here are the different ways David could have interpreted Nathan’s prophecy:
Nathan: ‘David, I have heard the word of God and He has made it known that you’ve got it all wrong. This is what God wants for you…’
David hears: ‘David, I am boldfaced enough to say that I know what God wants for you, but I really don’t know. But I will tell you anyway because I am very jealous of what God has given you and I want to bring you down and think heresy is a great way to do it. Listen to me and I will cut you down to my size.’
David hears but does not listen. He says to himself, ‘What did Nathan say? Something about what he thinks God wants for ME? How does he know that? I couldn’t be hearing properly. This small man really has all kind of crazy philosophies. Now where is my box of juice? It must have dropped from my hands while I was being bombarded by this boy.’
David hears: ‘David you are being overzealous again. I think you need to scratch that idea and think of another one. Actually let me give you a better idea…’
David hears: ‘What I speak about has nothing to do with God. It is all from Satan. Satan is attacking your ambitions.’
David hears and listens and says to himself, ‘You know what David, maybe you were being too hasty, maybe God DOES have different plans for you. After all, God has blessed Nathan with the gift of prophecy and he has been right on most occasions so it would do me good to at least consider what he has to say. Perhaps I will invite him for dinner and have a longer discussion, to gain some more clarity. Hmm, hey, thinking about it, he’s spot on, I haven’t even asked God if He wanted a house. Let me go and pray about it now.’
Which one is the best approach?? NUMBER FIVE OF COURSE!!!
Why? Because it made David really think about his motives and the necessity and feasibility of the things he wanted to do and the sense in what he was saying and thinking. Nathan, speaking out of a place of great wisdom, was able to give David a new perspective. David, mature enough to let go of his ego and pride and explore the possibility of him being wrong, is able to reassess and rework his plans, most likely to the result of better, more effective and efficient plans. In listening to Nathan, he would be able to avoid the whole tra-la-la of building a house in vain and use his efforts and energy in a more concerted, productive way.
Nathan is actually ESSENTIAL to David’s growth in wisdom, maturity and experience and success. Without Nathan, David is misguided and tunnel-visioned. David needs Nathan SO much more than Nathan needs David.
We so often think that people who give us advice or criticism feed off of bringing us down and insulting our work and being. We think they need us to build their ego and confidence. But actually, their criticism does very little to benefit them. And it will do very little to benefit us if we don’t hear them out.
I will go as far as to say that we cannot be the best versions of ourselves without being surrounded by people who can plainly tell us when we are wrong or falling short of our potential.
Read this carefully: We cannot be the best versions of ourselves if we surround ourselves with people who do not care enough about being the best versions of themselves. Because if they don’t want it for themselves, WHY would they go out of their way to want it for you and encourage you to get there?
This is something I only recently learnt. But I am putting it into practise ASAP.
Iron sharpens iron after all. We are people of great potential. If there is one person that thinks highly enough of you to say that you aren’t living up to your full potential then reach for your socks and pull them up higher and say THANK YOU to that person. And recognise that talents and gifts are blessings — they are not earned — so one should always have the utmost humility. With humility, ears become opened and so do hearts and minds.
Don’t ever shy away from your greatness even when refinement and improvement comes in the form of criticism. I’m learning to LOVE it when someone turns to me an says, ‘What you said right there, it is absolutely ridiculous.’ I have respect for that. If any of my blogs don’t make sense, tell me so!
Now… go and re-friend that Nathan you recently deleted off of Facebook ;)