Difficult team members…



Proverbs 9: 7 Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse; whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt. 8 A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you. 9 Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.

Here is an interesting contrast between a “scoffer” who resists correction and “the wise” person who welcomes it. Looking up the definition of “scoffer”, it comes from the Hebrew word “לֵ֭ץ” which means “someone who jeers, mocks, or treats others with contempt”.

In today’s language we might refer to a wise person as someone who is “teachable”. This person can accept constructive criticism without taking it personally. They learn from their mistakes because they will readily admit it when they make them, which in and of itself is a sign of emotional maturity. Such persons are a joy to be around and make excellent team/staff members. When looking for people to invest in as a leader, or prospective staff people, these are the kinds of people I look for.

On the other hand are people who do not take criticism well. When they receive correction about their behavior or actions they take it as a personal offense. Others will find themselves walking on eggshells around such people because they are quick to be offended and/or get angry. If you’re a leader at home/work/school/church you will eventually meet both of these kinds of people.

Word to the wise: when you find someone who is teachable, though they may lack practical know-how, it’s best to keep them around. People can learn skills over time, but a teachable spirit is worth the extra effort to train them. 

On the other hand, you will also likely meet people who have excellent practical skills, but are not very teachable. They are “scoffers” – persons of relative immaturity who take offense at any correction. Walk away from them. It can be tempting to keep them around because of their innate abilities, but you will eventually live to regret it. Yes they can produce, but they are toxic and will bring down the entire team eventually. Trust me on this.

Question: how do you respond when people offer correction? Do you try to learn from this kind of feedback or do you tend to become defensive when others point out your mistakes? If you’re not sure, ask someone who knows you well.

Lord Jesus, give us grace to be “wise” – to accept constructive criticism as just that. Help us to avoid getting defensive when we make mistakes, but instead take responsibility for them and learn from our mistakes. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.

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