Sunday, May 16, 2010


Young Josh Patrick asked me at Pepperdine last week, So what should I try to do in my first five years of my new work?  My first response was to learn to turn criticism into fuel.

Criticism is a vital nerve of the Jesus body.  Few accept it.  We usually fight it.  We are blessed by it.

Yesterday's post drew this comment; Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "TEACHING AND PREACHING: WHERE WE GET THE CONTENT": Interesting post today. Especially after I was listening to the podcast last week of your sermon. I felt like it was more about Terry's book and problems of me, my and I than on God. May I suggest you listen to your own sermon. Preachers should not use that many examples of self because it appears they are before the cross.

I screen every comment and held the option to reject this one.  I chose not to for it is a very significant part of ministry life.  What do we do with this?  How do we handle it?  I give you my opinion and you keep what part serves your ministry best.

First, never take seriously a note from "Anonymous".  Just don't. 

Anonymous has to be a good person; but such is a cowardly and immature behavior.  Disregard all information of "They said" or letters and notes which arrived "unsigned".  Don't take it personally or seriously.  You have someone who has an axe to grind; but if that person doesn't have the courage to put his or her name to it, we are not to respect such weakness....period.

When criticism comes with a name to it, pay attention.  It takes courage for such a one to approach you.  Yes, some will still be off-base.  Others, though, will be carrying information we would do well to heed.  We need criticism; yet it is the least favorite part of our work. 

Second, do realize criticism is not an attack; but is a vital help.  It is God's anvil where He hammers the impurities out of us.  One of those will be ego.  Paul expressed in II Cor. 12 that he had received a message from Satan to keep himself from exalting himself.  He regarded that message as a thorn in the flesh.  That thorn was criticism; Paul was being questioned at several turns as to his authentic apostleship. He needed such clamor to keep him from beginning to believe the wonder going on with and around him was his doing.  It never was.  It was always God's.

Third, criticism will be in your lap for more than just learning to stay humble.  It will be a constant part of your life to test whether you will love those whom you will naturally be tempted to believe are your enemies.  Keep in mind that even anonymouses are not our enemies.  Until you pass this test, you will be perpetually confronted.  While we are to realize that many of our critics have a deeper agenda, they are desperately loved by God....and us. 

The "C" word is not your enemy.  It is your blessing; another backward trait of God's system.  No, no one loves this time of being ripped.  Those who guide children's homes, write many books, preach for churches, and serve in the secular world.....all face the tough stuff of criticism.  We will not escape it.  If we do we are aborting the discipleship process. 

Jesus went through it and cautioned us when all men approve of us.  We are in a serious position which insists we will be disliked.  This is tough for us for, of all things, we want people to like us. 

Finally, enough cannot be said regarding the value of the "C" word.  It is an essential element of developing into an effective leader.  It is called "Suffering 101" and this course cannot be regarded as an elective.  Many good men and women have faded into the averageness of getting by because they refused to take the hammering kingdom life will provide. 

The "C" is for our benefit.


Anonymous said...

I'm only "anonymous" because I'm too lazy to create a profile! Ha!
I'm not a minister in the literal, career definition, but, boy, I needed this. Amazing how God uses other people (often, your blog) to speak to us at just the right time. Criticism and being misunderstood stings, but good can come of it.

Brian said...

Our Sunday morning gathering experienced a baptism and a spiritual renewal of seven people. At the baptism, there were cheers, clapping and laughter, I suspect that was going on in heaven, too. However, after the gathering was over, a visiting critic whom I never met cornered me and began to scold me for such clapping, laughing, and cheering. He said, this is why the "c"hurches of Christ are dying.

My critic's criticism of me was clapping for a born again believer (go figure). I just simply said, this is how we celebrate new spiritual births, I am sorry you didn't see the growth of the KINGDOM for the clapping. He walked away in disgust.

The kingdom is not only alive, it is growing and it FUN!!!!!

Anonymous said...