For some reason, many people like to think, consciously or subconsciously, that they were somehow born perfect and omniscient, that is “knowing everything.” But if people were born knowing everything, then what’s the use of schools and so many other learning institutions?
The harsh reality is that most people don’t like to be corrected when they are wrong or going in the wrong direction. If you correct someone or try to point them in the right direction, it could easily be misinterpreted as an insult since it makes the person feel “inferior.”
This is one of the reasons why so many people hold on firmly to their own beliefs or ways of doing things, refusing to change, even if that change is for the better. Indeed, it can hurt to think that you have been doing something wrong all your life. But you must also remember that it is never too late to learn and change.
Related: The Universe is teaching us all the time.
People in our world has always had the “I know!” and “What! You think I don’t know?” mentality. And they don’t like people “accussing” or “insulting” them of “not knowing,” even if such “insults” are really “constructive criticisms.”
Naturally, it is not possible for the average person to automatically “know” everything from birth up. There are lots of things that an individual would know, but many others would have to be learned and practiced. So then, why all this drama when it comes to correcting people? It’s called the “ego.” The ego is that aspect of the human mind which likes to think of itself as all powerful and all knowing. So when you attempt to correct someone or point them in the right direction, it hurts their ego, especially if they have a big ego. Tip: Ego is not a good thing.
My dad told a story once of a senior official in the Ministry of Education while he was a teacher. The individual would always be laughed at when he held a meeting. But he never knew why people laughed so much at him. One day, during a discussion, my dad, who was an English teacher, revealed to him that it was because his spoken grammar was very bad. “Oh…” the man said thoughtfully. “Can you give me lessons?” “Sure,” my dad responded, not knowing that he had deeply hurt and offended the man by revealing this “inconvenient truth” to him.
Instead of teaching the man lessons, the man turned around and taught my dad a lesson about “The Dangers of Correcting People.”
What did he do? This senior official turned around and retrenched my dad on the first opportunity he got, as a way of getting back at him for attempting to correct him.
Surely, we can never know where we’re lacking or where we’re going wrong unless someone hints it or points it out to us. Surely, this is going to hurt sometimes. But we must be thankful that without such “insults” we would never gain the awareness that we need to change something.
Often, a great student ends up better off than a good teacher. And if we are quick to heed corrective criticism, we can make or life so much better in such a short time that everyone would think we had it right our whole lives!
So what does the Bible have to say about all this? Let’s see! Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Proverbs 9:8