Have you ever heard the phrase, “one-up on you” where there’s a person who’s always trying to make what you speak about or what you do seem so small? They spend great effort making you feel incompetent. They add their two cents to try to prove to others that you don’t know what you’re talking about – they’re the only one that’s right. Nothing you say or do will ever be good enough to or for them. You’re not saying enough; you don’t know enough. You’re not anointed enough. You’re simply not enough. If you offer a hug to someone to encourage them, they would’ve hugged them and gave them a Scripture. If you fast for two days, they would have fasted for twenty-one. It’s all about proving you wrong. Your song was too long. You didn’t pray long enough. You didn’t hoop when you preached. Blah, blah, blah. And usually, those who are on you so strongly don’t have a relationship with you anyway. Side note: No one wants to hear advice from someone who won’t even take the time to fellowship with them.
So how do you deal with these types of people? You can’t be wrong all the time, right? You can’t be so far from God that you can’t hear anything He is speaking to and through you. Friends, this is a critical spirit, and being overly critical comes from a scornful heart. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” The word, “scornful” in this verse means, “to make mouths at, to talk arrogantly, to mock, to deride (to express a lack of respect or approval of, to subject to usually bitter or contemptuous ridicule or criticism, to laugh at or insult contemptuously) to be inflated.”
See, those with a scornful heart struggle with needing to be heard and seen. Therefore they inflate themselves and openly express disapproval of how you’re doing things. They don’t mind criticizing you because they want everyone to know that you’re not it, they are. It’s painted that they are the model of success and the measurement of perfection. Of course not all criticism comes from a bad heart, but you will be able to discern the difference from a scornful heart because nothing you ever do will be perfect enough for them. And moreover, they will keep quiet and not celebrate what God is doing through you because it rains on their parade.
To deal with difficult people with this heart attitude we must understand the nature and purpose of what this spirit comes to do. Truthfully, those who “one-up” on us are those who feel horrible about themselves. People treat us according to how they feel about themselves. They nick-pick at others because they struggle with perfectionism, and their unsolicited advice can put us under the pressure to perform, the pressure to conform or the pressure to be someone else if we’re not careful. And please know that you will never be enough to a wounded person.
So to wrap this up, let’s tackle how to bring some resolve to this. First, don’t let their critical heart cause you to second-guess what God is telling you. They are hurting and they want you to take on the responsibility of their pain. Secondly, pray for them to be open to the Holy Spirit walking them through the process of healing. Pray that the same boldness they attempt to reveal other people’s flaws will be the same boldness they have to walk in the freedom Christ died for. Thirdly but surely not least, make sure you’re not the critical one. Selah.