Sunday, February 18, 2007

DON'T FORGET TO BE THANKFUL FOR CRITICS

Criticism is tougher than death. While death temporarily stings deeply, criticism seems to keep pulling the trigger and killing off the joy. Bodies of preachers and elders and teachers and believers are strewn across every land having been button-holed by at least one notorious critic. Such was never the intent. We have simply misread the important role of the critic.

In God's world critics are an valued factor to every ministry. We need them. We must have then else we will be sickly, frail, and disadvantaged. If we were to move through church life with no criticism we would:
  • begin to believe that everything working well really is because of us.
  • never be challenged to grow up.
  • assume a great mistake; that we are great.
  • never understand there really are major tenets about us which need to be eliminated or redirected.
  • never walk in the sandals of Jesus.
  • have little meaningful counsel to those whose lives are being crushed by stress.
  • eventually quit because criticism is our spiritual workout gym which builds healthy faith muscles. We would fade diseased by spiritual atrophy.

Criticism isn't a signal you drew the short straw. Criticism isn't a sign you are in the wrong congregation. Criticism isn't an indication you are no good. A critic is God's blessing upon every servant-hearted believer so He can get the maximum out of us.

Second Corinthians 12:7, And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself (FOR THIS REASON.....TO KEEP ME FROM EXALTING MYSELF.....FOR THIS REASON.....TO KEEP US FROM EXALTING OURSELVES) there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me---to keep me from exalting myself! The messenger from Satan had a message to keep the grand old apostle from exalting himself.....it was a critic.

Don't forget to be thankful for critics. They are not there to bug you. They are on your campus to iron the wrinkles out of you. They are present to help you learn the value of being totally unable. They are there to teach you power is perfected in weakness. Critics are all around you to develop you into the person God, alone, intends. You possess a miniature life of Job. Don't assume because you are criticized that something is wrong with the critic. No, sir. It is a wonderful sign something is yet flawed about us and we need to continue to grow through this process.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Terry,
I don't know about your attraction to be fed and built up on criticism. I believe that my relationship with others is to build them up. I am not sure if Anne Lamott is right with her words on criticism of writers.

“He says how sorry he is that this is how he feels. Well, let me tell you this—I don’t think he is. I think destroying your work gave him real pleasure, pleasure he would never cop to, pleasure that is almost sexual in nature. I think you should get rid of this person immediately, even if you are married to him. No one should talk to you like this. If you write a long piece, and it is your first, and you are wondering if it’s publishable, and it isn’t, even by a long shot, someone should be able to tell you this in a way that is gentle yet not patronizing, so that you are encouraged—maybe not to pursue publication, but to pursue writing. Certainly this person might suggest you get a second opinion. But if he is too strident or adamant, ditch the sucker. Would you stand for someone talking this way to your children—for instance, telling them that they are not very talented at painting and shouldn’t even bother? Or that their poetry is not very interesting? Of course not. You’d want to go pay this person a little visit with your flamethrower. So why, if someone says something like this to you, would you want anything further to do with him? Why waste what little time you have left on this worth with such scum?

I worry that Jesus drinks himself to sleep when he hears me talk like this.”
Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott, P. 169, 170

I do know that I love your openess and courage to work through criticism. It is a good example to me. I am thin skinned perhaps.

My favorite blogs now are yours, and your boys as well as Mike Cope and Larry James. Why? God is opening your heart to us.
Love,
Larry Wishard

Liz Moore said...

Criticism is one of the hardest things to endure, yet as a Christian, I find it to be one of the greatest times of spiritual growth. Everything you are criticized for is of course not always accurate. But regardless of the truth within the criticism it is a great time for reflecting upon ourselves and our walk with the Lord. I find in those times I am closer to the Lord more than at any other time and ultimately more open to the things God is trying to show and change in me during that time. Thanks for reminding us there is something to be thankful for in every situation.

Zac said...

I think I would rather be severely criticized every day, rightly or wrongly, than deal with death like our family has. I'm not sure your superlative is correct in this case.

Greg said...

Someone has observed that no one ever erected a statue to a critic.