Criticism can at times be a bit painful for me to hear because I’m a people-pleaser by nature. I have almost no greater joy than honoring a coach or a father figure and doing my best to come through for that person. I love being able to do well alongside my teammates and crush it for them on the field. I want to strive to give my best, my all. I like making people happy, whether that means making wishes come true through my foundation, killing it in a game, or doing something extra-special for my mom for no reason. But I’ve learned that if I’m motivated only by making others happy, by their approval or praise, I end up with a hollow feeling.
While it makes you feel good to please people, it makes you feel fulfilled to please God.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, with wanting to succeed, with wanting to land that big deal, score that client, write that hit song, or dominate that game. It’s good to have passion and work hard. However, it can become a problem when wanting the praise or the success or the pat on the back becomes everything. Why? Because it doesn’t last! In 2007, after winning the Heisman, I was told I was the best in the world. And then three years later, I was told I couldn’t throw.
Another thing. When you work so hard to make others like you and make them happy, the criticism you receive hurts even more. The wounds run deeper. The cuts are sharper.
It might surprise you to know that some of the deepest wounds I’ve experienced have come from fellow Christians. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many believers playing a game instead of trying to love God and love people. The bottom line is that we as Christians, and even people who don’t ascribe to faith, are not always going to agree on everything. Get into a deep conversation with someone—it doesn’t matter how closely the person may share your beliefs, background, or worldview—and I’ll bet any amount of money that one person is going to say something the other doesn’t like or agree with. But I truly believe there is a way to disagree without being divisive or hostile.
I wonder what side of the equation you’re on. Maybe you know too well the sharp cuts from negative words. Or the damage when someone spreads a false rumor about you. Or the painful verbal punches from bullies. Or the hurt that comes from being judged or looked down on. I know what it’s like for a friend to not have your back. Negative words can hurt whenever it happens, but it’s the worst when you don’t see it coming.
And maybe, just maybe you’ve said something mean, condescending, judgmental, or negative to someone else. Maybe you’re the one who said that snide remark, started that rumor, made that dig, or took that potshot. It is easy for me to remember times when others have hurt me with their criticism. It’s harder to mention times I’ve hurt others with my words.
Several years back I distanced myself from one of my friends because he was involved with certain things I didn’t support. Some of what I had said to him may have come across as judgmental, arrogant, or that I was better than he was. I still regret my choice of words.
We can intentionally or unintentionally hurt others for a bunch of different reasons. We might be jealous, ignorant from not having walked a mile in their shoes, or insecure.
I don’t know why it seems we are better at tearing others down than lifting them up or cheering them on. This reminds me of a story I heard. Put a bunch of crabs in a shallow bucket and watch what happens. When a crab or two—the ones with the more adventurous personalities—attempt to climb out, the others who are below them will reach out and pull them back down. The bottom crabs will keep doing this so that no crab will ever escape.
Okay, so you and I are not crabs! But sometimes we share that same mentality: If I can’t have something—that great job, that perfect family, the dream come true, good health, an answer to prayer—neither can you. Sometimes when we’re facing adversity or hardship in our lives, we want everyone else to suffer with us. It’s not fair that life moves on for others when our world is falling apart. And sometimes, people around us, even those closest to us, try to drag us down for whatever reason. And that hurts!
I don’t know whether you are the one being criticized or you’ve done your share of criticizing. But I bet if we’re honest, we’ve all had our share of both. Either way, we must make a conscious choice to avoid strife, jealousy, and division. We need to stop being deceived by the negative words others say against us. And we need to stop saying negative things about others. The criticizing, the name-calling, the complaining—none of this adds value, to others or to ourselves.
Excerpted from Shaken by Tim Tebow Copyright © 2016 by Timothy R. Tebow. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Tim Tebow is a two-time national champion, first round NFL draft pick, and Heisman Trophy winner. While in college, he started the Tim Tebow Foundation to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves through caring for orphans and building hospitals. After playing in the NFL for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, Tebow joined the SEC Network in one of his current roles as a football analyst. When he’s not talking sports, you can find him contributing to a variety of ESPN platforms and co-hosting FOX’s reality television show Home Free.
Publication date: October 25, 2016
Image courtesy: Foxsports.com