Authentic Responsibility #10: I am responsible for deciding if and what I want to improve about me and responsible to refuse any disrespect for me about not caring to improve in a particular way.
I am unashamedly loud, and I have always had a loud laugh. And I have always faced some sort of “suggestions” from my friends—mostly my Christian friends—about how I can change different parts of my bold, in-your-face, God-given personality. In one particular instance, a pastor friend of mine heard me laughing (loudly, of course) and rebuked me in front of a group of friends by saying, “How do you expect to get a man with a laugh like that?” I was embarrassed and hurt by his comment. However, he wasn’t done—he continued to criticize my personality by asking me how I thought Christian men would feel about me being a member of the Facebook group, “Sidney Crosby is a P***y.” I told him firmly that I believed that my future Christian husband would be a hockey fan and love it—and he’d better be a member of that group as well!
My life has been full of “helpful” people suggesting improvements for me by listing the things they don’t like about me or think I should change about myself. Authentic responsibility #10 reminds me that our job is to decide whether to listen to those suggestions for improvement. Here are three things to remember about the journey to self-improvement:
- You get to decide what. My decision to ignore my pastor friend’s advice lay firmly in the fact that my identity as a child of God had nothing to do with his specific criticisms! Those were personality issues that my friend did not like—not hurts, habits, or hang-ups that were keeping me from experiencing the joy of abundant living in Christ OR from experiencing a husband. Practice self-awareness and measure carefully the improvements suggested to you—and remember to accept encouragement and edification of yourself, not destruction (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- You get to say if (and when). Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This means there is a time and season for you to improve yourself in certain ways! I recently experienced a season of incredible patience and heart work that God had planned for me. I had to decide to succumb to the work in me during this season. We must make our own decisions about if and when to address any issues that may be holding us back. So prayerfully ask for guidance not only about what, but if and when.
- You get to refuse the criticism. I refused to believe that any part of my personality was keeping me from the man who God had intended for me. I rebuked my friend’s words and said no to his assessment of me. Notice that I said no to the disrespect of me, not the person! We may not love everyone’s opinion of us, but we should love them no matter. After all, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are” (Anais Nin). My friend’s assessment reflected his likes and dislikes, not me. Refuse any disrespect for not changing, and do so with love.
The Bible says wise people listen to constructive criticism and correction given them (Ecclesiastes 7:5; Proverbs 15:31), but they also prayerfully consider what, if, and when to make changes in their lives. Be authentically responsible and choose wisdom!
When has someone suggested you make a change in your life? What was your response?