Why we shouldn't take things too personally

When serving in some volunteer capacity as I do at the church, I occasionally have hurt feelings or feelings of conflict if someone has a criticism toward me that is not worded in a constructive or loving manner. To be fair to my church family, this is a rare and unusual occurrence, but when it happens it can feel jarring to me.

In this situation it is all too easy to get take it too personally and have negative feelings - whether toward the other person, the church, the volunteer role itself, or whatever. That is a trap that Satan would love for us to fall into.

Instead, we need to remind ourselves that when we are serving in any capacity, we are there to serve the Lord as best as we can. We are not there to control everyone else's reaction to our serving role! 

If we keep the focus on the fact of our serving role, and on God, that is going to be a lot better than focusing on what others think of us or of our own hurt feelings.

But it is all too easy to wind up with the wrong focus when someone else's suggestions for improvements come to us in an abrupt or brusque style instead of a more constructively worded criticism.

To counteract this problem, I decided to actively ask myself "Would God want me to take this personally?" The answer is obviously no, and then it makes it really easy for me to handle whatever the problem is, without feeling upset or hurt. In fact, now I make it a simple 1-sentence process: "God wouldn't want me to take this personally, and so I don't." Using that process, I have been quite successful in diverting a lot of hurt feelings. 

I do want to be clear that sometimes the criticism itself is often very helpful to me, for example in alerting me to a problem that I wasn't aware existed, which I can then fix. It's when it's done in a manner that is not diplomatic that it is easy for me to fall into the trap of focusing on me and my own hurt feelings than on God.  That's when I remind myself that God wouldn't want me to take it personally. 

I only wish I had realized this earlier. I am 41 years old, and I feel a little foolish for having not realized this before. 

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