Dealing With The Critic and Those Who Have Wounded You

Dealing With The Critic and Those Who Have Wounded You

If you’re leading people, you will have critics. To clarify, constructive criticism is our friend and we should welcome it. What I am speaking of, is NOT constructive criticism. I am talking about the critic. The one who feels compelled to plays devil’s advocate. By the way, if you are playing the devil’s advocate that should be a telltale sign you’re not as helpful as you think and an indicator of what team you’re on. The critic is never hard to find. They are typically holding a glass that is half empty and their faces look as if they have been sucking on lemons.

One of the finest leaders of the Old Testament is Nehemiah. This guy was hammered by his critics! Chapter after chapter of this book we see the critic doing anything and everything to stop the progress of the intended mission.

The book of Nehemiah is proof that the critic has a plethora of tools to distract and discourage. In chapter 6 verse 17 we see the critic reaching into his tool belt, pulling out pen and paper and dispensing criticism by letter.

The trading of letters between Tobiah and the Jewish nobles is a trading of intelligence. Nehemiah is dealing with betrayal and deception. The intent of the letter is raise questions about his leadership and minimize Nehemiah’s influence. Ultimately, to stop the good work being done.

If you have ever had someone write something about you that was not true you understand the pain this must have caused Nehemiah. Nehemiah has been slandered to thousands of people and it has caused even some of those he leads to question him and the mission. So, what do we do when the critics or those who have wounded us seem to be making progress. First let’s start what not to do.

Five ungodly ways to respond to the those who have wounded you:
1. Fear. You begin to expect the worst in all people. You are now on the lookout for betrayal.
2. Withhold. We refuse to deal with the person that hurt us. We forgot the grace we have received and no longer extend grace.
3. Retaliate. You start using divisive words. You clearly want the person to know that you are hurt, and your intention is now to hurt them back.  It’s “hurt people hurt people” syndrome.
4. Doubt. How could God allow this to happen to me.
5. No wrestling. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

Five Godly ways to respond to those who have wounded you:
1. Pray. Nehemiah’s journey started back in Chapter 2:4 “So I prayed.”
2. Look to the word of God.  Remember when God calls you to a job site, He will ensure you complete it, according to Philippians 1:6.
3. Consider the source. If it’s a brother in Christ, Matthew 18 says “Go to your brother.”
4. Do what Jesus did. When Jesus was betrayed he responded by going to the father. The result was grace. Remember the cross when Jesus said “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.”
5. Make God the object of your affections. Don’t make the person who wounded you the place where your mind dwells. Instead be like Jesus and make God the object of your affections.

When we take a stand for the things of God and place ourselves in His will and are on mission, we should expect to be buffeted from the outside and the inside. When the critics revolt against you and the battle gets hard, remember that when you are weary and the knees are wobbly cry out to God and He will sustain you!

See you at the finish line!

Charlie

Do You Really Want Wise Counsel?

Do You Really Want Wise Counsel?

The phone rings and it’s a number that I recognize, it’s a young family in our church, so I pick it up and a conversation ensues. “Pastor, we need to speak to you, it’s important. Can we meet face to face?”

I respond, “sure, what’s going on? Are you OK?” He replies back, “yes, we are fine we just need wise counsel. Since you’re our pastor we want to do exactly that, get wise counsel.”

A few days later we meet in my office and after a bit of small talk the husband starts the conversation as his wife looks on, “Pastor, we love you, we really do. We value your opinion and want to make sure we bring you in on this very important life decision.”

Both the man and his wife began to share what was on their hearts. After listening for about fifteen minutes it became obvious to me this life decision to which my wise counsel was needed, was no longer needed. You see, the decision had already been made. 

You may be wondering why one would ask for wise counsel only to have already made the final decision. Well, after years of seeing this movie repeat I can certainly share my opinion on the matter.

Here are 5 of the most common reasons:

  1. It’s not that your wise counsel does not matter; however, the idea was so good they figured you would think it was a great idea as well. This is more about keeping you in the loop.
  2. It is more about getting your blessing, not your counsel.
  3. Accountability is not high on the priority list.
  4. There is a pattern of making quick decisions.
  5. Friends and family have said it sounds great. So, it must be great!

A good friend of mine said to be me once “your enemies will stab you in the back; however, a friend will stab you from the front.” When we ask for something we need to have the courage to actually listen to the wise counsel BEFORE a life decision is made. The Bible says in Proverbs 12:15 (ESV) “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Before selecting a person to give you wise counsel consider the following three things: (adapted from Stephen Davey)

  1. Does the wise counsel you are seeking violate your conscience?
  2. Does the counsel contradict scripture?
  3. Does the counsel hinder your commitment?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, the counsel should not be heeded.

Each of us needs a multitude of counselors. We must never be hasty in making decisions. Make it a point to surround yourself with God fearing men and women who will challenge you, speak the truth to you in love and point you to the word of God.

Until next time,

Charlie Moulton  

 

Embracing the Role of the Church

Embracing the Role of the Church

Hard to believe. But it’s true. I can’t sing. I remember first learning I couldn’t hold a tune. Charlie and I were in our early years of marriage when the sad truth was revealed to me. While at the end of a church service one Sunday, the announcement came for auditions for the worship team. I don’t know if he saw me lean forward with excitement or a smile came across my face, either way, I felt his hand on my shoulder when he leaned over and whispered, “Hun, you can’t sing.” Shock and disappointment went through my body.

What? How did I not know this? In my own mind and in my own wisdom, I could sing.

Much like my own blindness to singing, we as Christians can become spiritually blind to sin in our life. But God has lovingly provided a means for our protection against this danger and it comes in His design for the local church. The Christian life was never meant to be done alone but rather in the context and company of other believers. Ephesians 4:11-16

Left to ourselves, we can rationalize, justify, minimize and eventually become desensitized to sin. 1 John 1:8 sends a dire warning about self-deception, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This same passage teaches us that a believer’s life is one characterized by ongoing fellowship with other believers, confession of sins and obedience to God.

We are naturally prone to see the good highlights of our lives and completely miss the areas that are self-focused and self-seeking. The Bible shows this pattern of blindness and self-deception: David needed Nathan to expose his sin (2 Sam. 12:7), Peter needed Paul to confront his sin of fear and exclusion (Gal. 2:11-12), and Euodia and Syntyche needed Paul to charge them to lay aside their differences and get back to work of the gospel (Phil. 4:2-3). We all need other Christians to help us to see ourselves clearly and to stay on mission.

The bible is written with an expectation that we, as Christians, will live in close community with one another. There are over 50 “one another” directives in the New Testament.

“…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

“…Serve one another …” (Galatians 5:13)

“…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)

“…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

“…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

“Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)

“…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

Bottomline, we need one another to mature. This is God’s plan. A community gives us an environment in which to see the blind spots we otherwise wouldn’t see. It serves as a safeguard from self-deception and sin which can easily pull us away from the Lord.

Have you embraced God’s design and role of the local church in your life as a believer?
Settle in your heart that it’s God’s “protecting and growing” plan for you as a Christian. Then prayerfully seek out a discipleship or bible study group that will provide the community you need as a believer.

Let us endeavor to live out the gospel together and stay on mission for His glory.

Until the whole world hears,
Louise Moulton