Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Answer to the Critic

Everyone has had to endure criticism in their lives at one point or another.  It is simply a fact of life.  Even if you could do everything perfectly, there would be someone to disagree with your 'motise operandi'.  Obviously nobody is perfect so the opportunity for criticism goes up drastically.  I want to encourage leaders to move forward despite the critics call.

When you are a leader, you can expect there are those who will not like your position, your policy, your flair, your....something.  But leaders know this going in.  You have to be tough; to be mentally prepared for the opposition to shoot at you with their twist on your words, their sideline assumptions of your actions.  Still, the leader presses on  with all that he is called and led to do with his life.  

A leader should also know that if the criticism is warranted, he or she should take heed, amend their ways and move ahead.  But criticism meant sole for the purpose of destruction and not for positive advancement, is not worth your time of day.

Jesus was criticized to the maximum.  The leader of all leaders....Lord of all Lords...was openly rebuked, chastized, and ultimately rejected of men.  Some of His own men tried to sway His opinion.  Yet, Christ set His face like a flint for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of His Father.  The redemption of sinful mankind was in the balance.  Being fixed on His goal, He could cry, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do!"  

Mob mentality prevents critical thinking!  Couple that with a heavy dose of Jewish tradition, in Jesus' case, and religious tradition in our modern world, and you can certainly understand the blindness which shrouded the view of those who drove the nails into the innocent flesh of Jesus.  

When a leader makes a mistake, this crowd has all the more reason to dig their claws in.  The pulsation of venom through their veins is intoxicating, causing the crowd to begin to chant...crucify!  Jesus was the only leader who never made a mistake and yet, they still killed Him.  It is during the times of mistakes that a leader must keep his balance, remember who called him, close his ears to the masses and listen only for the voice of the Master.  

Christ is in the business of restoring, lifting and renewing His calling in the lives of men and women who are admittedly less than perfect.  In my opinion, the only ones who are beyond the help of God are those who see themselves as being perfect enough to criticize others.  Let me tell you something.  All you have to do is look in the closet of every human being who is an ancestor of sinful Adam.  Flowing in their veins, in your veins and in mine is the ability...yea even the positive probability of failure.  Just dig into your own closet with just a hint of honesty and you will find some skeleton hidden there!  You should perhaps read that last line again.   We are all sinners!  Chief among them is the critic who sits in the seat of anonymity, hiding behind some screen name, or hidden deeply, safely within the layers of the rumor-mill lobbing their verbal daggers onto the field where men are giving their hearts in a worthy cause!

Dear leader, let me urge you to continue on in your calling.  Muster all within you that is righteous and holy and empowered by a Divine call.  Use your abilities to the maximum.  Reach for the lost!  Stand for what is right, even if it flies in the face of the masses of religious biggots who prefer the erroneous ease of tradition over the real relationship of truth.  Hold your ground against the Pharisees who love the seat of judgment daring to play judge, jury and executioner.  As you stand, God will give you the grace to be all you were called to be.  And while you are in the heat of the fray, He will mold you into His image more and more.

For every leader, there are at least a hundred folks who will tell you how ineffective, how unworthy, how uncaring, how this or how that you are.  I have heard criticism of churches until I am sick of it.  I have heard them criticize the pastor, the music, the youth pastor, the nursery worker, the bus driver, etc.  Most of the time the folks doing the 'yacking' are not the ones paying the bills, driving the bus, praying daily for the church.  It is always the side-liners, the disenfranchised, the disgruntled and disjointed.  The only voice that matters is the voice of God speaking to your spirit day by day.  Listen closely, follow hard and be all you can be.  Embrace those who embrace the commission of Jesus Christ; who build the Kingdom; who have been restored and therefore know the vast and redeeming value of lifting the fallen.  Do not waste one day worrying or regretting or fretting.  Don't answer their email, their phone call, their rumors etc. with your words.  Only answer them with your life, your love, your prayer, your stand.  If forgiveness is real...if God has called you...if you know that you know...then expect the miraculous!  It will happen.

I conclude with these fantastic remarks by Saul Bellow.  "Here we write well when we expose the frauds and hypocrites.  We are great at counting warts and blemishes and weighing feet of clay.  In expressing love, we belong among the undeveloped countries."

Be blessed,

Pastor Tim