"If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding." Proverbs 15:31-32
If you are like me, you don't take constructive criticism well. Over the years, I have gotten better at it, but even still, my response is to go on the defense. The hows and whys, the wells and buts, they come flooding out in a poor attempt to cover up my shortcomings.
It shouldn't be like that. We need to learn from our mistakes, not shirking our responsibilities. There is a big difference between punishment and correction. It's hard to tell the difference in the heat of the moment, but we need to be able to distinguish what is correction and what is punishment.
In our culture, the phrase "Yelled at me" is both overused and misused. Any correction gets lumped in with punishment, and we take offense. But I can't stress how important our discernment is here.
"For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:12
Correction is one of God's refining fire tools. As a child, it was how we learned right from wrong, what to do and what not to do. We never learn more than when we try our hand at something and fail. Sometimes, we learn best when we learn what not to do, through trial and error.
The next time your boss reprimands you, or your pastor speaks out against something that applies to you, keep this in mind. Punishment isn't the goal. Making sure that you get things right next time is.