Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett on dealing with criticism


- Credit: Archant

I’m a big fan of Alastair Cook, the cricketer and son of Essex.

As England team captain, he has had a difficult summer this year, but no one with a memory can doubt that he is a great player.

As has been said of other sportsmen and women of similar stature, “form is temporary, but class is permanent”, and we can be sure that, whatever his current form, he is a cricketer of the highest class.

I was sad, therefore, to read that former England captains Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott, had been calling for Cook to step down.

It seemed to me that they should know better, having been in the same position themselves.

Kicking a man when he is down is never a good thing to do, and to do it publicly, in the media, was not very classy.


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Of course, Cook is not alone. Bobby Moore was criticised by people who, in retrospect, were not worthy to tie his shoelaces.

And I remember Brian Clough saying of Trevor Brooking, “He floats like a butterfly and stings like one, too.”

It was rubbish, of course, but criticism can still hurt, however misguided it is, and it hurts all the more when we are struggling to do things as well as we usually can.

It is all too easy, then, to fall into deep resentment towards the people who want to bring us down, rather than letting go of that criticism and thinking positively.

As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

If we can let go of resentment, we are free to act positively towards people in a way that can only bring good.

One later writer, Kent Keith, put it this way: “People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centred. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

“The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.” Read more from Elwin Cockett