Encouragement for Creators: Critical Care for Creators


As long as someone somewhere is trying to accomplish something, there will be critics. And as long as there are critics in this world, you’ll hear or read negative, even ugly, comments on just about everything under the sun. If you’re a creator, inventor, entrepreneur, athlete, leader, business professional, or _____________ (fill in the blank), your work and quite possibly you yourself, will be criticized at some point. Critics will take special aim at you — whether you deserve it or not. And a few will try to get in some cheap shots. Fact of life. So you need to learn to be bulletproof.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, like many leaders before him, came under frequent attack while in office. We can imagine the political criticism of his policies, whether legitimate or unfounded — along with all the slurs, jokes, and trivialities that accompanied it — had to get old fast. But Reagan never seemed to get frazzled by his critics. In fact, the media labeled him The Teflon President, because nothing nasty that anybody was spouting seemed to stick. Reagan simply let everything slide off his back.

There are two kinds of criticism: valid and invalid. If you encounter valid criticism (Truth), try to learn from it and improve. “To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring….” (Proverbs 25:12 NLT) However, if you encounter invalid criticism (unwarranted, untrue, or immaterial), take it with a grain of salt. Never allow such barbs to pull you down. Think about the motivations behind invalid criticism:

1. Money: There are professional critics who get paid to “evaluate” books, movies, music, sporting events, food, restaurants, public figures — you name it. The best of these critics try to be honest, unbiased and realistic. The worst are nit-pickers who find great pleasure in exposing the minutest flaws and tearing things apart, usually to be entertaining. Face it, critics get paid to be critical. Many feel if they can’t find something wrong, they’re not doing their job thoroughly. Weigh the value of their OPINIONS, and discard any unjust or unfounded criticism. Then move forward.

2. Jealousy: We need to explain this one? Seriously? Okay, there will always be people who are envious of your accomplishments, especially if THEY aren’t successful. Writing or saying bad things is often an attempt to minimize what you’ve achieved, and justify their own shortcomings. Some people try to lift themselves up by lowering others. Soar above it!

3. Fear: No one wants to be left behind! Your friends and family may fear you’ll succeed, while they won’t. By the way, fear and jealousy are critical collaborators. Negative comments from a fearful person should elicit a degree of compassion. Smile and encourage these cowering critics. Don’t take their words to heart.

4. Competitiveness: You may not know this — heh! — but people are competitive. We’re born that way: a baby will compete for a mother’s attention; children quickly learn games rooted in competition; teenagers compete for friends and acceptance; students for scholastic honors and college placements; and adults in the workplace jockey for career advancements. It’s best to not allow this motivator to rule your life and control your thoughts and actions. Many do, though. So, when they try to minimize your achievements, don’t allow their negative comments to DISTRACT you from your personal goals.

5. Pessimism and negativity: Some people are just plain negative. Some actually have a critical spirit; and these people will always find something to complain about, something to nit pick. Antidote: continue to be positive; let these people pick their nits. You have more important concerns.

There will always be critics in your life, people who don’t want to see you rise higher; who may even hope you fail; people who want you to stay right where you are! Understand the motivations behind invalid criticism.  Love the critic, but let the criticism bounce off you. How did Jesus respond to His critics? For the most part, He didn’t. He stayed focused on His mission and mostly ignored them. Go, and do thou likewise!

“We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” (2 Corinthians 6:8 NLT)


The Cookie Jar (Angel in the Kitchen)


Do you have a cookie jar in your kitchen?

Cookie jars were first used in England toward the end of the 18th century — only they were called biscuit barrels. These containers were usually simple glass jars with metal lids. However, tea biscuits were frequently sold in metal containers and these “biscuit tins” were often saved and reused.

For some reason, cookie jars started becoming popular in the United States during the Great Depression (1929). (Perhaps people were feeling these common household containers were a safer place to stash their hard-earned nickels and dimes!) Around this time, cylindrical-shaped stoneware cookie jars, many of which were decorated with a floral pattern, began to replace the simpler, plain glass jars.

Vintage biscuit tin.

A few years later, the Brush Pottery Company of Ohio produced the first cookie jars made of ceramic, a material which allowed the containers to be molded into a variety of shapes, such as fruits, vegetables, animals or comical figures. Suddenly people were collecting cookie jars, and several companies decided to encourage the craze by offering a seemingly endless array of designs — ushering in a “golden age” of American Cookie jar production, from 1940 until the early 1970s.

We have a beautiful “birdhouse” cookie jar on our kitchen counter — because we LOVE birds! — and we store our Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies inside it. We buy these delicious cookies to keep on hand in case any guests drop by unexpectedly; we want to always have a treat to serve to them with their coffee. So we don’t usually pilfer the cookie jar. In fact, we keep the bag of Milano cookies sealed until we need them. (We only eat them ourselves if they’re close to going out of date, after we’ve replaced them with a fresh pack.) We’re good like that!

Wish we could say the same were true for us when we were kids! Both of us were frequently “caught with our hand in the cookie jar”! Wilma’s mom had a Mother Goose cookie jar. Tom’s mother had a teddy bear cookie jar. Both jars were kept well stocked. Both jars were an endless source of red-faced shame: there’s something embarrassing about being caught standing tippy-toed on a kitchen chair with one hand fishing around inside the “brain” of a brown ceramic bear! BUSTED!

The phrase “caught with your hand in the cookie jar” means: to be discovered taking something you’re not entitled to. When it comes to cookies, there may be several reasons we’re not entitled to a cookie: we’re saving the cookies for guests; we’re dieting and don’t need a cookie; we’ve already had our fair share of cookies; it’s close to dinner and we’ll spoil our appetites! Phooey! When you’re a kid, none of this seems fair. We just want a cookie!

“Hand in the cookie jar” has another, informal meaning: to take advantage of one’s unique position by accepting favors. For instance, “That politician has his hand in the cookie jar!”

As believers, we have a unique position in Jesus Christ: we are the sons and daughters of God — His children — and we’re also the Lord’s ambassadors here on earth. And know what? In His “celestial kitchen,” our Heavenly Father has His own “cookie jar”! It’s shaped like a “lamb without spot or wrinkle,” and it’s called God’s abundant life and blessings. He keeps it well stocked, and we never have to fear being caught with our hand in the cookie jar, because His blessings are there especially for us — not just for special guests! Anyone can reach in and grab an “abundant life biscuit” or indulge in a “double stuff” blessing.

Our Heavenly Father is always generous with His cookie jar, and He wants us to help ourselves to as many cookies as we want. “[God] withholds no good thing from those who have integrity.” (Psalm 84:11 NET Bible) His supply of blessings never runs out, and besides, He trusts us to share whatever we receive — instead of acting like the Cookie Monster! “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.” (Psalm 68:19 King James 2000)

Cookies whenever we want one? Hey, our Heavenly Father is not just an “eat your vegetables” God. He wants us to enjoy our days, so He always keeps the cookie jar in easy reach, 24/7 — 365 days a year. So have ANOTHER cookie!

Jesus said, “…If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11 NLT)