“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” – Proverbs 15:31

Last week we discussed how we shouldn’t reject praise, but redirect it to our good God and the people around us. Now we turn our attention to criticism, which Scripture typically refers to as reproof. If you spend time reading Proverbs, you quickly realize that listening to reproof is wise while ignoring it is foolish. The hard part with reproof is that you must discern from where it is coming.

The reason I love this specific passage is that it uses the phrase life-giving reproof. In sports, many feel the need to criticize from a place of ignorance and foolishness. (Remember those people we talked about last week called “fans”?) Unfortunately, sports has created a culture where anyone can offer their opinion and publicly humiliate athletes without consequences. We call this kind of criticism and reproof verbal abuse. However, there are people—including coaches, teammates, parents, and even some fans—that give you life-giving reproof. Contrary to verbal abuse, life-giving reproof is given from a place of love, care and support and only for your good and growth.

Today, many of us handle reproof, or criticism, in two extremes: we either shrug it off in pride or allow it to tear us down in self-pity. We give power to verbal abuse without discerning who’s speaking or we reject life-giving reproof because we think we’re good on our own. Growing up a coach’s kid, I know one of the most desirable qualities in an athlete from the coach’s perspective is to be coachable. In other words, to not be so full of pride that you can’t take any criticism, but to be eager for instruction and able to receive reproof.

My final word about praise and criticism is that one must keep their identity in Christ and always, always have a posture of humility. When we are firmly rooted in God’s love for us and humbly recognize we’ve made it this far because of grace alone, then praise is redirected and life-giving reproof becomes just that – life-giving.

  • Would you consider yourself coachable? How do you respond to criticism?
  • Repent of those moments of criticism where you have either responded in pride or self-pity.
  • Ask God to root you in His love and clothe you in humility.