I like to walk as my main form of exercise and at the corner of our street is a house with a beautiful lawn and garden. There are bushes trimmed in the shapes of animals and the lawn is soft and springy. Blake, my 4yo son, likes to announce that he's tired and sink right down into their nature strip on his back, looking up at the sky. Sometimes other passers-by stop to grin at him and exchange a few words.
One lady said to me, "Don't these people do a wonderful job of blessing the neighbourhood with this beautiful place? Just looking at it is enough to make you feel happy and calm."
Then just a few days later, a man who we met at that spot remarked, "Have you noticed the water they use on this joint? (Because we're in the middle of water-restrictions here in South Australia) It's appalling and someone really should report them."
There's two different ways of looking at the exact same thing, and I suppose it could really be said that both points of view are true. That's a funny thing, I suppose 'truth' often depends on the person who perceives a thing. Some teachers used to tell my parents that I was too day-dreamy and remote, and I got upset because I knew it was true. Then other, kinder people said that I was relaxing, and refreshing to be around, and I suppose that was true for them. I watched movies and read books that I thought were fantastic, yet they were blasted to pieces by critics in reviews. Yet I persist in thinking that they really were fantastic because I found them so.
I think the Biblical advice to take people's words lightly is wise. Don't worry when people criticise you or your work, because they are really only voicing their OWN opinion! It took awhile for me to learn this and sometimes I still forget. On the other hand, when others heap praise on us and tell us how great we are, we ought to take this lightly too, for the same reason. If we let this sort of thing get too deeply into our heads, it'll hit all the harder when the other sort of feedback comes, as it always will. I think the very best thing we can do is carry on faithfully doing what we are sure is our calling without letting people's words affect us much at all. Then we are probably in the best position for God to use our input.