"One of my church members who runs a very successful business says that every complaint she receives is a plea from the customer to get closer to her and her wares. She welcomes complaints! When we welcome judgments and those who judge, we do the same. We widen the circle of our friends and decrease the circle of enemies. Thus, love and freedom from fear are marks of judgment. These marks make it holy.

"It is important to remember that no one likes to be judged. Most people are extraordinarily sensitive to judgment. We remember the one negative remark after a sermon even if a hundred positive ones have been stated. We remember the teacher's comment on our paper that was critical and forget the praise. We do not have thick skins. I have long recommended that my fellow clergy wear 'bulletproof vestments' so that we don't get as wounded as we do when people criticize our gifts and offerings.

"I have learned a few tricks of the trade when it comes to judging others. Most of them I learned as a writing teacher. When it comes to judging other people's writing, here is my advice. Always pick out two really good things. Say the first. Then go for the criticism. Use the ratio of two positives to one negative, and the recipients of your advice will grow and grow. Their writing will improve and their trust in you will also improve. People trust our compliments when they also know we are free to be critical with them."