The Wisdom in Correction, Instruction, and Rebuke

We all do things which invite correction, instruction, and rebuke. Today we learn how the wise deal with such feedback. It turns out, the wise love the person correcting them, the wise use everything to become wiser, and the wise keep digging to add to their learning…

7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
Proverbs 9:7-9

7 El que corrige al burlón se gana que lo insulten;
el que reprende al malvado se gana su desprecio.
8 No reprendas al insolente, no sea que acabe por odiarte;
reprende al sabio, y te amará.
9 Instruye al sabio, y se hará más sabio;
enseña al justo, y aumentará su saber.
Proverbios 9:7-9

When you are corrected or rebuked or instructed by another, how do you respond? Do you love that person? I still remember the day I heard author/speaker Dr. Henry Cloud say, “Feedback is a gift.” It is one of the hardest lessons to put into practice. Considering feedback, correction, rebuke, or instruction as a gift separates a person from the masses. Such a person is wise, and this wisdom is rare.

Notice that the proverb doesn’t say who is doing the correcting? That’s the first area I might get hung up. If the person correcting me is a person I don’t trust or respect, I am less likely to receive their correction as a gift. There is a tendency to judge correction and instruction with reference to the credibility of the person, isn’t there?

Don’t get me wrong. Haters gonna hate. There are people who have no business correcting or instructing anyone else. They can even be malicious and destructive and harmful as they lob passive aggressive or just plain aggressive ‘feedback’ over the wall. We have all meet those people. If we lay the credibility card right away, however, we miss out on the wisdom of receiving and processing the gift of correction.

It’s pretty easy to start looking like a mocker or the wicked in our proverb. If we respond to correction with mocking or insult (Do you believe what he said to me?!?) or hatred (I’m done with her!), we don’t look wise. We look foolish.

What do the wise do? First of all, the wise love the person correcting them. The wise actually love everyone. Everything changes when you have an attitude of love toward the people you live with, work with, neighbour with, etc. Love snuffs out the judgmental attitude you might have wanted to lead with.

Next, the wise use everything to become wiser. By receiving and processing correction, we work through it to understand whether we could have acted in a different way or reacted in a manner better suited to the situation. If feedback is a gift, the wise unwrap the gift even if it smells like a ‘crap sandwich,’ which is slang for giving feedback in a good – bad – good approach to semi-hide the fact that there is some smelly, tough stuff in the middle of the sandwich. The wise open up the gift and go further to open up the sandwich. Why?

The wise find the nugget. Okay, after that last metaphor, perhaps I should say they find the gold. The wise keep digging to add to their learning. In every situation, whether success or failure, there is something to learn. In every situation, even when the corrector or instructor is a jerk, there is something to learn. The wise add to their learning. Every time.

The word righteous was poking at me. As I dug in further, I found that the Hebrew word means fair, just, blameless, right, and righteous. The Spanish translation uses justo – just. This is good understanding. Consider that if we teach people who are fair and just, they add to their learning. It’s not that the wise are better. It’s that the wise are more fair and just in their approach. Therefore, they learn more.

Bottom line: we all do things which invite correction, instruction, and rebuke. When the gift of feedback arrives in any of those forms, take a wise approach. You’ll be wiser for it…


Marc Kinna

This entry was posted in Proverbs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.