Self-forgetfulness and Criticism

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Some great insight from Timothy Keller:

“The self-forgetful person would never be hurt particularly badly by criticism. It would not devastate them, it would not keep them up late, it would not bother them. Why? Because a person who is devastated by criticism is putting too much value on what other people think, on other people’s opinions. The world tells the person who is thin-skinned and devastated by criticism to deal with it by saying, ‘Who cares what they think? I know what I think. Who cares what the rabble thinks? It doesn’t bother me.’ People are either devastated by criticism – or they are not devastated by criticism because they do not listen to it. They will not listen to it or learn from it because they do not care about it. They know who they are and what they think. In other words, our only solution to low-self esteem is pride. But that is no solution. Both low self-esteem and pride are horrible nuisances to our own future and to everyone around us.

The person who is self-forgetful is the complete opposite. When someone whose ego is not puffed up but filled up gets criticism, it does not devastate them. They listen to it and see it as an opportunity to change. Sounds idealistic? The more we get to understand the gospel, the more we want to change. Friends, wouldn’t you want to be a person who does not need honor – nor is afraid of it? Someone who does not lust for recognition – nor, on the other hand, is frightened to death of it? Don’t you want to be the kind of person who, when they see themselves in a mirror or reflected in a shop window, does not admire what they see but does not cringe either?

This is gospel-humility, blessed self-forgetfulness. Not thinking more of myself as in modern cultures, or less of myself as in traditional cultures. Simply thinking of myself less.”

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One thought on “Self-forgetfulness and Criticism

  1. I read this book last month. I love how Keller communicates answers to fundamental philosophical questions (in this case, a partial answer to the question, “Who am I?”). His explanations have a way of breaking paradigms in my thinking and replacing them with systems that are both memorable and biblically supported.

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