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.