God is really working in my life concerning criticism.
I don't like it - and I think I am in good company - I don't think any of us do.
And yet, even at this stage of ministry (after 30 years), I am still learning, still growing, especially in this area of handling criticism.
Comedian Steve Martin said, "Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes." Funny stuff.
I guess that I was kind of naive in thinking that after we relocated into our new church facility, that everyone would be happy, overjoyed, and thrilled.
I was wrong.
Now then, don't get me wrong, I am not throwing stones - it is just human nature to have an adjustment period, and I understand that. All of us, including me, have a hard time with newness and with change.
I guess I was thinking, "after all of my hard work and time, surely everyone will recognize how hard I have worked and join in with me in the joy of what has been accomplished."
I was wrong. How selfish of me to think that way. No one owes me anything. The church was built for God's glory and for His Kingdom.
One author writes, "no leader is exempt from criticism, and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it."
Wow, if that's true (and it is) than I have a lot of room for growth.
In his book Confessions of a Pastor, Craig Groeschel offers some advice on how to handle critics.
He writes, "It's a fact that "hurt people hurt people." They usually dislike themselves and criticize others in a misguided effort to validate themselves. If one of these injured souls lobs a criticism grenade in your direction, defuse it with understanding. Part of considering the source is seeking awareness of what that person may be going through.
One time I was praying during worship, a few moments before preaching. Eyes closed, focusing on God, I felt someone slip a note into my hand. I never saw who it was, but the note was marked "Personal." I thought to myself, Someone probably wrote a nice note to encourage me before I preach. A warm, loving feeling settled over me as I unfolded the paper.
A moment later, I lost that loving feeling.
Evidently, the note was from a woman who had tried to see me on Friday, my day off. She took offense at my absence and blasted me with hateful accusations. This happened literally seconds before I was to stand up to preach. In that moment, I had a choice. I could internalize the offense and become demoralized and discouraged. Or I could ask myself, I wonder what she's experiencing that caused her to lash out?
I chose compassion over depression. My heart hurt for her. I knew that such a disproportionate reaction must indicate deep pain, so I didn't take her note personally.
Consider the source. And consider the possibility that the jab may have come from an injured heart. Dismiss it and move on. If you don't, you may become the very thing you despise."
That's my prayer (me - George) this day - that I would be even more open to receiving criticism and wise enough to know how to respond.
"Father, help me in this area. I desire to be the leader you want me to be. I desire to be the godly man you want me to be. Amen."
It could have been a hairy-nosed wombat
11 hours ago