Have you ever been criticized by someone and immediately thanked them and did what they suggested? More times than not, I bet we all become a little frustrated with the person and defensive, or ignore what that person has suggested because we know we are right, or become upset in our minds and think badly that this person would question the way we do something. We tend to think the way we do something is the best way, because why else would we be doing it that way if it wasn’t the best way. It’s easy to become defensive and not stop to consider that maybe the critique was out of concern, or out of experience, or out of love.
An incredible example of an open heart comes out of Exodus when Jethro comes to visit Moses. Moses has helped the Israelites flee from Pharoah and the Egyptians, and now are wandering the desert following God’s command. Moses is the leader and he believes that he is doing everything in the way that God has instructed him. Then his father-in-law, Jethro, shows up with Moses’ wife and children. Moses tells Jethro all the things that he has done because of God, and Jethro is proud and amazed. The next day, Jethro joins Moses to see him at work.
Exodus 18:13-18 ‘The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.”
Jethro comes to observe his son-in-law at work and after he sees him work a full day, he says to him, what you’re doing is not good. “Moses, your work is being done wrong.” I know that if my father-in-law were to come with me to work and say this to me at the end of the day, I would not be open to the critique. I would become defensive. I would think all the things I talked about at the beginning. Here is the amazing thing. After Jethro says this, he goes on to tell Moses how he should be doing his work and suggests a more effective way to help the people. After listening to everything Jethro had to say, vv. 24 shows us Moses’ response: ‘So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.’ Moses listened to everything with an open heart and then actually did what was suggested. What an incredible example of a true servant heart. This should be the example for all of us. When criticism is brought towards us, whether it appears to be positive or negative, we should slow down, think of where the person is coming from and truly see if the suggestion would be beneficial to our work.