Saturday, January 21, 2017

OWN THE CRITICISM YOU RECEIVE

There is an invisible doctrine that has always been among us in the church.  We will sacrifice dollars and we will surrender time; but we will not do the receiving of criticism.  Think about it, please.  We are called to what?  Take up our cross and follow him.

Taking up our cross means that we are voluntarily, intentionally, in trouble...with people.  Church is trouble.  Of course on so many fronts it is full of joy and peace and valued meaning.  Yet, the one thing about Jesus that reversed the world from doom to hope was his willingness to take on the whole believing load which certainly meant mistreatment.  We seem to be in up to a point.

This week we made an announcement that was painful to put forth; the ending of the Tulsa Workshop.  Hundreds of loving comments of support have passed my computer screen and washed my sad heart.  And then there are those who seem to have found their opportunity to get to say in public as to how they feel quite negatively about our event.  Some man named Stanley B. Adams put the following out there for all to see on Facebook: this is what happens with the Tulsa congregation left its first love, you cannot put lipstick on a pig and expect it to be other than a pig. Godlessness has its own reward.

I dare to repeat this man's feelings for the sake of those of you who also have critics.  This isn't fun.  It is hurtful.  Yet, this is the very thing that you will face as you make progress in the Kingdom.  Don't resist.  And, certainly don't hate.  What this man and others have posted about me/us this week is a drop in the bucket as to how lacking that I know that I really am.  I've made multiple mistakes in the workshop decision process.  And, I'm not done being a flimsy leader.

But this is for you, young leaders.  Don't run when criticism comes your way.  Rather own it.  It is an essential part of the ministry package.  We will not prosper without it.  Peter took a stab at advising Jesus to go some other route than the cross.  Jesus' response was to connect Peter's seemingly thoughtful and protective words as those coming from Satan's lips.

We don't like struggle.  We just like church the way we like it.  So we eventually, usually, run.  So I join with other voices down through the ages saying, Don't resist, don't hate, don't run, and don't quit.  I deserved the negative comment above, and others like it, coming at me.  I'm a weak feeble man trying to wear the courageous sandals of our Savior's feet.  He did it well.  I resist at oh so many turns.

Criticism is to be a part of our Christian walk.  Otherwise the cross would be a mere piece of jewelry and not our heart-felt calling to enduring commitment.  Yes, some church stuff isn't fun and isn't fair; but it is the Jesus-style.  We are called to love our enemies; to do good to those that hate us.  He meant it and showed us how.  We are not free to opt out.  I wonder if the society's deepest crippling could be because we massive church-attenders love those we love and despise those we despise which avoids the central call of the Cross.

Don't be down because someone takes a shot at you.  Rather, awaken to the fabulous opportunity of God in such a moment.  He wastes not one crumb of a crummy life.

We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us....Romans 5:3-5.

3 comments:

Jim said...

Two excellent post on the same day! Even the same morning! Words from God through His human vessel. We should heed. Prayers for Brother Adam and his followers.

Jennifer Carroll said...

Right on the money, Terry. Love the Tulsa Workshop...and the Memorial Drive congregation for supporting it for so many years. Wear your scars proudly.

Nancy Jackson-Bryant said...

Amen, Terry. I needed to read this. I love you, brother!