Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

Negativity, self-criticism and God’s love

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


I’ve come to realize that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but there’s a catch.

An old dog will respond to a new trick only if the reward is great enough! Take me, for example. Now, I’m not calling myself an “old dog,” but I am giving you a slight hint that I’m a little set in my ways. And sometimes, well, those ways need some “resetting.”

For instance, I used to think of myself as old and would speak those words out loud — a lot. Most of the time, it was just for a laugh. However, more recently, I realized that not only was I fully embracing my age, but also the age of Genghis Kahn and Christopher Columbus put together!

Well, this past weekend, I attended a life-changing pastors’ wives’ retreat, and of course my “set ways” were obvious to all. Every time something was said about running on the beach or climbing the stairs or even the coloring the gray of my hair, I made a comment about my being too old.

It wasn’t long after I’d been there that one of the beautiful ladies in charge pulled me off to the side. She gently spoke words of encouragement and rebuke to me, saying that I needed to recognize God created me beautifully and that His Light shone within me and through me. Later, I realized the depth of what she was saying. Being “old” is not my true identity — Christ is. Therefore, I am misrepresenting my Savior by drawing attention to my age in a negative fashion.

The next night, the devotional leader made the statement that much of the comments we speak over ourselves are words we would never speak over anyone else. Oooh — guilty!

She was so right. I would never call anyone else old. Yet, I consistently spoke those words over myself. That night, I decided to learn a “new trick.” I purposed in my heart to renew my mind by making my speech — my words — line up with His speech and His words over me.

So now, rather than speaking the words “I am old,” I choose to sing the words of the song, “Who You Say I Am,” by Hillsong. I sing to my spirit and sometimes throughout my house to the top of my lungs:

“I am chosen,” (Ephesians 1:3-5), “not forsaken,” (Isaiah 62:12). “I am who You say I am,” (Zephaniah 3:17). “You are for me, not against me,” (Romans 8:31). “I am who You say I am.” (Scripture references added.)

I cannot explain to you in a timely fashion how God has used this in my life to transform me. But what I can tell you is that the reward of learning this new “trick” is great enough!

Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Let me ask you, then: What are you “dining on” these days? What are you ingesting — taking fully into your spirit and body? Are you constantly berating yourself instead of reminding yourself that our personal God specializes in transforming your weaknesses, your failures, even your age, into a beautiful instrument of His glory?

Take heart, my friend. Allow God to teach you a “new trick.” I promise…the reward is great enough.

Just ask this old dog — uh, I mean, sort of young, but life-experienced child of the King.

Prayer: “Thank You, Father, for the transforming power of Your Word to us and over us. Help me speak life to myself and those around me today — to say things that don’t point out who I am but instead point to who You are. I love You, Lord.”

Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and