It is important that young leaders learn to accept criticism. It is most valuable; a central part of kingdom life, II Cor 12:5-11. We must have opposition if we are going to serve in the church. No one helped me handle attacks. No one taught me their value. Thus, this post to awaken young leaders to the necessity of personal criticism and how to use it as fuel rather than letting it drain us of energy. Otherwise, you will run scared and eventually toss in the white flag.
Yesterday I watched a video of a man speak negatively about my little book, The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense (which has since been rewritten under the title, Empowering the Ordinary). It surely was an interesting experience. I don't like criticism. But it goes with following Jesus. Yet, we can relax and learn. We don't always get things correct; neither do our accusers.
Mr. Brown boxed my ears a few times. In places I had it coming. My writing skills are riddled with inadequacy so I get how he could question some of my language. An author always wishes he or she could have stated things a bit more concise and clearly once things are in print. However, when it came to the part about the Holy Spirit working in our lives (which is why he opposes my book), he could not get the plane to leave the runway. He taxied his entire speech.
Mr. Brown expressed such a difficult time as to how I dare admit that I tried to teach a Holy Spirit class three times and messed it up every time. How could Rush be a gospel preacher and mess it up?, he railed. Well....the book gives the answer. And, if he really wanted to know he could have called me. You need to know that is just the way it goes. Don't react and don't give up. Conflict doesn't mean your are bad or good. It simply is an important element of maturing in the nature of Jesus.
While this book (written 24 years ago) is immature for I wrote it, it does lead one to consider multiple passages supporting the idea of the Holy Spirit's activity. Mr. Brown, didn't have time to cover these as he was more about mocking and jeering me. Again, this man has the right to challenge. He is a good man who holds strong convictions. However, don't assume you must yield to anything but the Word; even if another is outspoken against you. Let their words serve you rather than scare you.
Do not be ruffled by critics. Go to school on them. They serve a wonderful purpose in the kingdom nature. We must always go back to the Word to see if we are in error for we are very likely to be mistaken. What disciple doesn't? Critics assist us in digging deeply into whether we really believe what we say. This is true of all of us students including Mr. Brown. If we are to mature, we will have to learn of errant ways and adjust.
Romans 5:1-5 insists that we be ultra-careful in our judging of others because in doing so we ridicule our very own actions...because God says we are guilty of the same things. I am just as guilty as David Brown about unfairly judging others..God says.
Next, I want to assure you that boisterous voices and hammering claims against you are to be expected from Pharisees. It goes on. At first it can put the scare into you. What these do to you is precisely what they did to Jesus. In their eyes Jesus never understood the Word correctly. They hammered but he would not fluster. It just isn't his nature...and neither is it to be yours. Yet, you have to learn this through...being hammered. You are often called to live on the anvil while God tempers you through the blessed means of accusers. Didn't Jesus show us this over and over?
An odd thing I noticed in the link I give to you (the man --I don't know him-- introducing Mr. Brown and initial comments by Mr. Brown) was the gloating of being hated. I am very surprised at this. How can that be? I hadn't seen that before. One has to be known before one can be hated. I barely know the names of two on the program, Mr. Brown and Cal McLish. I've never heard of the others. I feel badly that they think they are hated. Maybe I misunderstood that it was a joke. Could be, I guess.
Criticism will hurt your feelings until your realize it is useful in God's scheme of things. While I would prefer not to be ridiculed publicly, the "yes" (II Cor. 1:9-20) in this is that when men such as these assail our works, they unintentionally endorse our walk with God. For that....I am grateful. In Mr. Brown's rebuke, he makes my point. My early efforts in teaching about the Holy Spirit were a mess because in those days I had his view of the topic....and it really is a mess.
Rough days? Big clouds? Feel attacked? Don't flinch. It isn't a storm. It is Jesus at work in us. Attacks on Jesus led him to resurrection experience. Hold on. The same is for you. You will not escape criticism. You need it. Learn from it. Use it as a blessed tool. Opposition is our friend because it helps us grow.