I just spent the last couple of days with men I greatly admire…they are Ministers of Education from some of the SBC’s largest churches. Several of these men have been critiqued, questioned and vilified by the folks they serve almost to the point of giving up. I got to talk at length to a couple of them and reminded them of the following…I pray it helps!
Most of your wounds will be from “FRIENDLY FIRE”…..man! I wish someone had mentioned that early on in my walk with the Lord! It would have saved me some bitterness and frustration. 🙂
FRIENDLY FIRE is a term used to describe shots fired at you in battle… by your own men.
James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.
We all have a tendency to extend grace to ourselves and judgement to others. Examine your own life….when you cut someone off in traffic it is because: “you are in a hurry, you are late, you are justified, your priorities are superior to those on the road around you” etc…perfectlly reasonable explanations! BUT when someone cuts YOU off in traffic they are …. “a jerk, reckless, irresponsible idiots, boneheads of the highest order, etc…” Right?
This tendency can be especially tragic when people mix the genuine call to a high moral standard (Biblical Christianity) with our propensity to judge others. The result for some is the absolute abuse of people who stand to lead, volunteer, or serve the body of Christ.
Anyone who has ever shared the gospel, preached a message or taught a small group has their stories……here is one of mine:
The First Time I ever preached at the Met (Metropolitan Baptist Church in Houston) was in the summer of 1994. I was the youth minister for the rapidly growing church and found myself in front of about 1200 people one Sunday morning. The week before, I prepared like crazy, got very little sleep, and lost most of my appetite. To say I was “worked up” would have been an understatement. With my wife in the audience (thank God for a friendly face) I proceeded to preach a decent little sermon: 4 points, some good illustrations and even a video clip. Several people gave their lives to Jesus that morning and I left the platform reasonably satisfied that I had honored the Lord with the message.
Apparently not everyone was all that happy with the message (on forgiveness by the way) as I received a phone call the next morning from a gentleman (I use the term loosely) who proceeded to critique just about every part of my sermon and even the fact that I was wearing a fancy suit (my only one….funerals, wedding, preaching suit. the guy did NOT like three buttons I guess). I remember sitting in my office stunned and bewildered that someone took such offense at a sermon. (A Biblical one at that!)
…these days I can smile about it but do remember the pain and angst it caused.
In some cases Critique, criticism and judgement can, over time, turn a once bold “man of God” to a “quivering pile of goo”! We have all seen the Pastor who is beholden to those who critique him. He changes his preparation and thought process to accommodate his critics. He has given them power over him and tragically allowed them to take God’s place…….. sad…… but common, very common. I know dozens of men who have left ministry for good because they could not get over the fact that folks who profess a love for Jesus may very well profess a dislike for others who serve Him.
Is it wrong?….yes!
Is it part of the deal?….has been for years!
John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Quick note: The shots rarely come from the core folks in a church. The core is too busy serving and working to reach people. The shots come from those in the stands …. the Monday morning QB’s and onlookers who treat the church like their favorite team…. taking credit for the win and casting blame in a loss.
Just knowing where the shots are coming from is half the battle.
from The Bible Study Series, “Things They Did Not Tell Me About My Faith” – Hixon Frank 2007