Summary: About a year and half into full-ministry, I made one of the biggest mistakes in my life. Personally, I was passive in this mistake. I only started the problem, but others certainly finished the damage. If I could, I would go back and change my actions.
OVERCOMING THE CRITIC
TEXT: LUKE 6:1-11
THEME: OVERCOMING THE INFLUENCE OF THE CRITIC IN LIFE.
About a year and half into full-ministry, I made one of the biggest mistakes in my life. Personally, I was passive in this mistake. I only started the problem, but others certainly finished the damage. If I could, I would go back and change my actions. The youth ministry at the congregation was going well, in my estimation. Desiring to be a well informed leader and minister, I asked for members of the congregation to reply to a simply questionnaire concerning the ministry. There were numerous questions asked, such as “do you have any suggestions for activities” and “what areas do you feel we should focus on?” Easy stuff so far, but the mistake was asking people to give me their impression on my performance. The second mistake was not asking people to sign the survey. Most of the surveys were positive with helpful suggestions, but it was the three surveys that did the really damage. Personally, I was amazed at the harsh criticism of some of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was a rude awakening to the stinging pens of Christians. Some of the comments were direct jabs to the face. Comments like, “Matthew never attends the Thursday Night Devotional though he lives right next to the church building.” Others were, “He is only using the church to pay for his schooling” and “He is too impatience in leaving on youth trips.” The problem was that that I expected Christians to handle disagreement and problems face to face. No one ever asked me why I was not at the Devotional; if they did I would have told them that I was in school until eleven o’clock on Thursday nights. This was authorized and supported by the elders. Also, it certainly stung for someone to question my motives in serving Christ. Using the Church for school, first of all the congregation paid nothing towards my schooling, and second of all, I was in ministry school. What was I going to do with a Master’s in Bible, go be a well paid doctor? And the last comment was about me expecting the teens to be on time for the youth trips, I do not like to be late, and I was already called “The most impatience man ever” by one mother because I left on time for a youth event. Maybe, these comments hurt because I expected something else. Or maybe I felt like I was being slandered with injustice. I t just seemed like an opportunity for certain church members to insult me.
Certainly a lesson was learned from this mistake. Personally, I do not like giving people the open door to criticize me. I already feel inadequate enough, without inviting put downs. So I have closed the door to most people. It was a sad day, as I received those letters from church members. In no way do I claim to be perfect, but at least get my faults right. I like to live life with a certain level of naivety; I am an o.k. person, an o.k. preacher, and an o.k. human overall. But I discovered in ministry that I have more faults than I like to admit. There is always a problem somewhere with something you do. To be perfectly honest, I dislike criticism.
But it is one thing to dislike criticism; it is another to deal with it effectively. There are a lot of methods in dealing with critic people and harsh talk. But let’s go to a perfect example overcoming criticism. Look at the way Jesus deals with the situation. Jesus provides two healthy ways to deal with the critics. Luke 6:1-11 “Now it came about that on a certain Sabbath He was passing through some grainfields; and His disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" And Jesus answering them said, "Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?" And He was saying to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." And it came about on another Sabbath, that He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He healed on the Sabbath, in order that they might find reason to accuse Him. But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Rise and come forward!" And he rose and came forward. And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do harm, to save a life, or to destroy it?" And after looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored. But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.”