God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede. – Oswald Chambers
Discernment: The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgement; Understanding of the nature, meaning, quality or magnitude of something
Criticize: To find fault with: To judge with disapproval
I think constructive criticism is an oxymoron. There are many productive ways to share an observation or a differing opinion without criticizing. The value of the message is almost always weakened, if not lost altogether, in the automatic defense mechanisms of the one being criticized.
It’s very much like if I were to begin a sentence to you by saying: No offense, but… Of course you’re already offended. I’ve just told you that I’m about to say something that I know will offend you.
If I’m inclined to say No offense, but… or a critical statement, I try to stop and think:
1. Does this really need to be said at all?
2. If so, is there a way to say it that won’t hurt or offend?
I think there usually is. Most offending and critical comments are simply lazy language, coming from a place where I put my opinion or my need to be right, over your well-being.
This naturally leads me to think of two other words:
Speck: That tiny bit floating in your eye
Log: That giant piece of dead wood lodged in my eye
It’s God’s place to supersede. It’s my place to intercede. It gets to be a bit of a mucky mess when I try to switch places with Him.