Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#forgiveness’

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

 

What if we accepted criticism and did something about it?

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No-one likes being criticised or told off.

We don’t like being told we don’t measure up, meet the standards or that we have failed.

The problems in our society have roots in our individualisation of people. We are told we can do anything we want, if it feels right then do it, and that we are all valuable, special and have rights.

But what happens when you live by your feelings is that if you don’t feel like it then you don’t do it or don’t put in any effort to do it well. If we feel hurt then we think the person who has hurt our feelings must be in the wrong. We think it is what matters to us is more important than what happens for the good of others.

A local school has a motto “Non Sibi Sed Aliis” which means not for myself but for others.

When we are criticised, told off or disciplined so many people get cross, indignant and defensive. The cry of children “it wasn’t me, it wasn’t my fault” has become the mantra of adults in the workplace, in the home and in society at large.

Defending ourselves and being indignant takes up a lot of time and energy. It causes us stress and leads to complaining and gossiping. It takes up an awful lot of our time, preparing argument, reasons for why it isn’t our fault and counter criticisms that we can throw back at others. We become anxious, ill and tired. We don’t feel valued and can constantly feel under threat.

It happens in families, between friends, in the workplace, in government…and in our places of worship.

How many people have left marriages, families, jobs, churches because they feel that they can’t take the criticism, that they are being unfairly treated, overlooked, persecuted?

Our obsession with defending ourselves at all cost means it becomes difficult to sort out the real unfair criticism and bullying from the truth that our actions are not up to standard or helpful to others. (And I am not talking about that kind of criticism in this post) Or maybe we are the one who criticises and judges others? Maybe we are fed up of others being defensive and negative at whatever we say to them? Maybe we judge others so harshly that if they don’t measure up to our expectations we think they are useless, worthless and we don’t want to know them any more?

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

Nurse Holding Elderly Patient's Hand

One simple but possibly impossible solution is for us to develop a culture where it is okay to fail…but not to give up.

This means thinking of the greater good and accepting criticism…and that it is okay. Even writing this makes me take in my breath. I have been subject to criticism a lot in my job and in my marriage, as a parent and as a part of my church…but actually…often this criticism has been correct. I don’t always meet the standards expected of me at work. I am sometimes unfair to my family and fail in my parenting techniques. I do say the wrong thing to people and let them down, I also judge others and criticise them with the same criticisms leveled at me…don’t you?

And still I HATE being criticised. I often think it is being unfair and that I have a good defense. But really, if I think about it, mostly the person telling me off loves or respects me and is just pointing something out that is harming them or myself and our relationship.

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

There is a lot of unfairness in our world today. Some people are cruel, nasty and bullies and they must be stopped. However, not all that is said to us is cruel and nasty. We need to learn to discern what is being said to us and not be afraid of negative feedback. In reality THIS is what makes us better. Comments about my attitude to men made me a better wife and woman. Comments about my teaching made me a better teacher. Comments about the way I spoke to my children made me a better parent. Comments about my book has made me write a much better one. I hated every single negative comment, (in fact some threatened to lead me into deep depression) but learning to take a step back, lay aside the negative emotions and really think about what was being said – has helped me learn new ways of doing things and new ways of being a better person for the sake of others on the receiving end of my relationships. (By the way, there is still a long way to go…we are ALL works in progress!)

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

photo from office.microsoft.com/en-gb/images/

photo from office.microsoft.com/en-gb/images/

As a Christian there is a very important foundation we have for all of this. Jesus offered us life not based on our performance and measuring up to any standards. He fulfilled perfection for us and then died and was raised to life so that we could be given forgiveness and perfection as a gift. He sees believers who have accepted this life as already perfect…we am able to feel secure in his grace (undeserved gift) and then grow into who he is making us to be. Often that does come through discipline – we need to have it pointed out to us where we’re going wrong so we can agree with him (repentance) and let him help us put it right. The book of James in the Bible is really helpful (you can find it online here… http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV ) God disciplines us because he loves us.

I imagine a society that feels secure enough to take criticism and uses it to grow. This society would have community not individualism at it’s heart. I imagine leaders who are kind but truthful and support their workers to accept constructive criticism and learn from it and who model how to do this by being able to take, learn and grow from the criticisms given to them. I imagine less stress, people less defensive and humble enough to accept that they are not always right but that it is okay. I imagine a society where we fail, learn from it and don’t give up, blame others, attack others to take the focus off ourselves or run away. I imagine that divorce courts are quieter, families are stronger, children are better behaved, communities work together and going to work is more fulfilling. I imagine more courteous drivers even! I imagine a society where people are less stressed and smile at strangers, and maybe is a lot safer.

Difficult, yes…impossible, no. Here’s my prayer for you…

Dear Father,

May the persons reading this feel secure enough to understand that negative feedback can help us grow into better people. Thank you that we can know this security in your love for us and that knowing Jesus died for us can take away all the need we have to live up to others expectations for our innate value. Help us begin today to think before we react to criticism, find the truth in it and respond appropriately. If that means apologising and changing something we do, then let us have the grace to change and grow.

Thank you Lord

Amen

I failed…

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This week  is one of my rare personal posts. I have always intended this blog to be about ministry to people with additional needs but as is often the case, I find myself learning and being challenged along the way.  Sometimes I am very challenged.

This week I have failed…and failed a lot. No matter how much time and effort I put into doing the right things, striving to do all that is expected of me and still have time for people, Bible study and prayer….I fail.

This week I have let people down.

I have forgotten important things…like a family birthday.

I failed to reach certain standards at work and didn’t get some things done by the deadline.

I have hurt people because I said the wrong thing, or snapped at them, or couldn’t spend enough time with them.

I couldn’t cope with other people’s problems so I hid away.

I didn’t do something I should have and caused a lot of upset to someone because of it.

This week I failed and failed and it made me feel crap.

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The way out of the pit.

One thing I have learned as a Christian is that God can truly meet all my needs. He promises me that if I trust in Jesus there is no condemnation from him for me.  I am set free from guilt and sin…..WOW!

I need to remember to go to Him in prayer and ask him for what I need. This week I need to ask for forgiveness, mercy, memory, the ability to sort out what is really important from what is not….and rest….yes…rest (PLEASE!). It is a lesson I have been learning for years and each time God takes me a little deeper into knowing and trusting him.

This week his answer to me is this….

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
 Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
This week I will still fail, let people down, not be good enough, forget things and upset people.  But don’t you notice it too….we live in a world that is constantly judging, measuring and reporting on our worthiness.  And I bet that you sometimes don’t live up to these standards too.
But what about God’s standards?
His is perfection.
But we can’t live up to that if we can’t even live up to this messed up world’s standards.
Then we thank God that he sent his son Jesus. The only one who ever lived a perfect life because we cannot.  He died for our failures, sins and evil ways.  He died to be our saviour.
So next week I am going to remember that God sees me as perfect through Jesus, because when we put our trust in Jesus this is the promise we receive.
To my family, friends, colleagues at work and in ministry I am sorry when I fail you.  Where I can I will put it right.  Where I can’t I will ask you to forgive me and let God’s grace restore us and make our weaknesses show HIS strength and power at work in us.
Thank you for listening.

 

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