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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

25 July 2017: Geoff Hanna, Petersfield United Reformed Church

Are you a critic or a praiser?

Following last year’s divisive EU referendum and the recent indecisive General Election result our country seems increasingly polarised and at odds with itself. It seems every organisation and individual in the public eye is subjected to ever increasing levels of criticism. Much of it seems to go beyond legitimate debate and seems to be more and more vitriolic and personalised.

Why do we choose to be critics? Maybe it is easier to point to the perceived faults in others than to deal with our own. Maybe finding fault makes us feel better about ourselves. Or maybe we think it will increase our stature in the eyes of others. Or maybe having achieved a certain level of success ourselves we feel ‘we know best’.

We are all moulded from an early age by the attitudes of our caregivers; parents, guardians and teachers. They nurture in us coping mechanisms, both positive and negative, that shape our personalities. They give us both praise and criticism. But a child’s spirit can be broken by always emphasising what they do wrong rather than what they do right. Mary Kay Ash, an American business woman, said “Sandwich every piece of criticism between two layers of praise”. Or as someone else once said “Any fool can criticise – and many of them do”!

The Bible says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4 v.29 New International Version) So what should we say and do for the best? Try praying “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord” (Psalm 19 v.14 New International Version). It might just make a difference.

The next PACT Prayer Day will take place at St Mary's, Buriton tomorrow, Thursday 27 July from 8:15 am to 6:30 pm

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