I'm overly critical.
Surprised? Probably not if you've ever read this blog.
I wasn't surprised either. It's one of those things I've always known about myself, but never felt comfortable admitting to. It actually took seeing someone I really respect come out and admit the same thing for me to feel okay with it.
When I was in Seattle a couple months ago, we visited Mars Hill Church. During his talk, Mark Driscoll went off on a short tangent about how he finds himself annoyed a lot by little things. He said, "I am always constantly annoyed because I'm the guy with the critical eye. I notice everything that's wrong with everything. So I am always annoyed, and I've had to repent of being annoyed."
Immediately, I thought, "Oh my gosh. That's me!" And I could tell my friends were thinking the same thing.
So over the past couple months, this is something I've kind of come to terms with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly proud of it, but understanding this part of my personality is definitely essential to my growth.
I think that people don't understand that I am not just overly critical of other people, I'm extremely critical of myself. I won't call myself a perfectionist, because I don't think I am, but I definitely set high standards for myself in anything and everything that I do. I'm annoyed with myself when I fail. I'm annoyed when I don't live up to the standards I set for myself.
So what I'm finding is that being the "guy with the critical eye" has it's pros and cons. It means when I do something, I do it well. I don't mean that sound self-appreciating, but when I do something, I don't consider it finished until it meets my expectations. At work, my coworkers know when they ask me to do something, it's going to be done well.
On the con side, I often extend those expectations to other people. I tend to expect more from people than they expect of themselves. That leads to me being annoyed that they aren't at least trying to live up to higher standards. So when someone does something stupid, says something immature or falls for something, I'm annoyed. When they speak or write improperly, I'm annoyed.
I'm not going to continue listing annoyances because that would be annoying.
I don't think it's an accident or mistake that I'm so critical, I just need to learn how to effectively direct that criticism. I know that petty things don't matter; I know they're not worth being annoyed over. And for the most part, I'm able to contain myself and easily get past those minor annoyances. I realize that it's impractical for me to extend my personal standards to other people (let alone strangers I don't even know).
But I don't think it's a bad thing that I set these standards for myself (even though I fall short of them). God demands that we do our best in everything we do. Whether it's something I do at work, something I do at church, something I do for friends/family, something I do for a complete stranger or something I do only in the eyes of God, I should be striving for excellence. That doesn't mean doing the bare minimum or doing just enough to get a pat on the back, it means doing everything as best I can.
I think that's something we can all improve on.
Not that I'm criticizing or anything.