Isn’t it amazing how powerful of an influence the eye of another person can sometimes have on us? I admit that, for me, it is far too often a weakness. Today I found myself in a situation where I was trying something new — a challenge that I had worked hard to prepare for and took on with great excitement, if not a bit of trepidation — but found myself being watched, scrutinized, critiqued, and clearly not supported. The person watching me obviously was not in full agreement with my approach, had their ideas of how my job should be done, and wasn’t afraid to make it known in a somewhat demeaning fashion. So how did I respond? I’d love to say that I stood strong in the face of discouragement – that I stuck to my guns and was able to continue my job confidently – but I didn’t. I withered. I don’t handle that type of scrutiny too well, I’m afraid. Flustered and discouraged, I floundered through the rest of my task, constantly and quietly wondering if the person watching me would approve of my work. Essentially, I became a slave to their opinion.
I don’t even think what made my job today so difficult was this person’s opinion alone. If she would have supported me as I worked and approached me later with some constructive criticism, I think I can honestly say that I would have done a far better job while I was working and later embraced the criticisms wholeheartedly (Heaven knows I probably needed it!). No, what made things difficult today was that feeling of mistrust…of “you’re just not good enough”…of being scrutinized and torn down…of a lack of grace and support. Ever felt that way?
All in all, I’m probably making it sound far more dramatic than it actually played out – it really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it did get me thinking about how powerful of an effect we can have on one another. How many times have I looked down smugly on someone else as they were working and thought “If I were doing their job, I’d be SO much better…”. How many times have I tried to “step in” and make things “better” — probably only making the person feel 2 inches tall in the process? I find myself challenged to take a look at myself — the spoken words and implications I express — and examine how I might become more of an encourager.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”. – Ephesians 4:29