Lesson #5: Criticism Comes
We’ve all been criticized at one point in our lives. (If you haven’t—WHEW! You’ve dodged a painful bullet!)
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard as much criticism in my life (yes- all 32 years of it…) than I did when we began to plant the church here. (And it continues still today! Yay! Not so much.) What is with us humans?!?! I mean- are we really this stuck on ourselves? IT’S NOT ABOUT US, PEOPLE!!!
(Sorry for the many question marks and exclamation points.)
Here are some things I have heard just in passing while planting this church.
- “It feels like you’re just playing church…”
- “I hate that orange wall color… it looks like diarrhea…”
- “As a church, you’re not welcoming enough…”
- “Wow. You’re too welcoming…
- “Your band plays the same songs over and over.”
- “Your band plays songs I’ve never heard…”
And the funny thing is? These criticisms are coming from within the Church (as in people who love and follow Christ). When we began the planting process, I really felt like we would have more support and understanding from our fellow Church from within and from far away. (And we do have a TON OF SUPPORT…) but I never expected to hear SO MUCH CRITICISM from those so close to the plant.
I am a critical person, and yet, hearing this blatant criticism over and over is teaching me that being critical is not a good thing. We are humans; imperfect and sinful beings. God has bulldozed me over and over to break me of my criticism… and I know He’s not done with me yet. Should we be focusing on the imperfect things in life or the things that lift Christ up?
These words convict me over and over from the Message version. (I’m starting to think that they are haunting me, as they float into my mind in the midst of a critical thought now.)
Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)
“Summing it all up friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious— the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Oh… I love that. Think about the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly… things to praise and not to curse. Are we? Am I? I am trying to… every day. And those criticisms? Maybe I should just delete them off this blog… so that I never have to think of them again. (Although, they do make me laugh now…)
I am choosing to focus on the encouraging things. For example, God is moving in our little city and we realize that we are just along for the ride.
Hurting people are healing.
People who don’t acknowledge God are still seeking Him (a monthly event brings 80% non-believers into our home!)
The weekly “Man-Up” Prayer group is now going to be starting a “Man-Up” bible study.
God is sending us workers willing and ready to get to work!
God continues to bring us people who don’t know Him personally.
Our church’s needs are being met (even before we ask for them in prayer!!!)
Our homes are filled weekly with small groups and we are continuing to grow!!
The community is asking how they can help us. (Seriously—isn’t that awesome???)
God is good. And He continues to knock our socks off through this crazy process. So, what is the moral of this story? Choose to encourage and not break down. Take what others say in criticism and ask yourself, “Does this really need to be addressed?” And if it doesn’t, move on. And when you notice that the paint color does have sheen of diarrhea-ness to it? Keep it to yourself.