- Created on Saturday, February 11, 2017
- Written by Fr. Robert Novokowsky
Taking Correction. We've heard on several occasions how to give correction to another. What about on the receiving end? Here are some principles on how to take correction.
1. Reason, not passion. When being corrected we easily get 'defensive'. Defensiveness is a passionate response by which we stop hearing, reject everything, and then counter-attack. In this defensive mode, no good is likely to be accomplished. If we are ruled by passion, then reason is overthrown; if we are not reasonable, then not virtuous; if not virtuous, we are behaving badly; if badly, no good is possible. Different thoughts! If our mind is focused on different thoughts (ideas), we will have different emotions. If we think we are under attack, we will feel defensive. But, if we think we are being treated by a physician, we might feel discomfort but without anger. Therefore, we must control our thoughts: to be corrected is not to be attacked. Therefore, no defensiveness is required.
2. Good intentions. Assume the other has good intentions. We often assume the worst of people, which is uncharitable, and unjust. Assuming things without proof constitutes a rash judgement. Charity directs that we grant people 'the benefit of the doubt'. Therefore, assume good intentions and good will.
3. A service, not a harm. If the other is acting with good will, they are doing us a service. The proper response to service is gratitude. Therefore, we thank them for correcting us. Even if their correction ends up being incorrect, they intended to do us a service. Now, we may feel hurt by correction. To be hurt is not necessarily to be harmed.
4. We don't have it all. All opinions have a grain of truth from which to learn. Since we need time to absorb an unfamiliar truth, we need to "Be slow to anger, and slow to speak." We can learn something from everyone, without compromising the truth or any descending into relativism.
5. Correction from authority. If it comes from an authority figure, (E.g. an elder, a trained professional in their field, etc.,) and the correction seems wrong, we can easily be too haughty and dismissive. Rather than a knee-jerk, "Wrong!" it is more honest to ask deliberately, 'How can this be true?'. Our objection will best be resolved by a deliberate search for a resolution. We will learn much by seeking this truth.
6. 100% Wrong. Sometimes we are falsely corrected or accused. Jesus was also falsely accused. He never shouted angrily, "How dare you!" Rather, his responses were meek, without anger. He said, "If I have said something wrong, please point it out. If not, why do you strike me?" Take up the cross and follow Christ. In this way, we can accomplish great spiritual good. While the truth must be promoted, it does not have to be promoted in every instant.
Thank you for your continued kindness.