The Character of Critics

Everyone of us has a story. It's our lives! It's our adventures. It's our journey. Everyday we add another chapter, another page and more characters to our story. One things every story has are critics, the antagonists that add drama and tension. There isn't a good story without that character. The reality is that the character of the critics is crucial to having a story worth telling. The problem is that none of us like, or want, this character in our story!

Over the past three years as a pastor, my story has been filled with critics. Probably more than any other portion of my life. Pastors, if you are doing what God has called you to do, you will ALWAYS have critics in your life.

In the middle of 2008 God called me to do the impossible. He called me to the impossible so I could not get credit for the miracle He has done, only God could have saved our church! I stepped in and assumed the pastoral role in a church that was founded in sin, lies and adultery. Not a great foundation to build your leadership! God gave me a clear vision and direction on how to rebuild the ministry. But, in order to rebuild, sometimes you have to tear down, clean out and remove the junk. When we do that in the church, people get frustrated, irate and downright mean. My experience has been no exception.

Over the course of 3 years I have had plenty of people come and go. I'm not talking about church goers, I'm talking about supporters and leaders. There have been plenty of people I knew would leave, plenty of people who needed to go. What always seems to catch me off guard are the people who claimed to be great supporters, dedicated and, in their own words, immovable in their commitment to our ministry. These are the people who have turned out to be the greatest critics of what God is doing at Grace Church. When these people leave, criticize and stir up dissension, it hurts. But, why should I be surprised...The Bible is full of stories just like this. Here are some examples:

Cain kills his own brother, Abel, for doing what God had laid on his heart!

Nehemiah had Sanballat trying to deter him from doing what God called him to do.

King David had Saul, his original "cheerleader" & friend, trying to kill him!

Jesus had Judas, a man He had called to follow Him, sell him out to be killed.

If Abel, Nehemiah, David and Jesus had these characters in their story, why would we expect it to be any different for us? As a matter of fact, we need these characters. When I have faced the critics, when my greatest "cheerleaders" abandoned their posts and people tried to sell me out and destroy me...that is when my faith has become the strongest. That's when my vision became more clear. That's when my commitment to God's calling in my life and ministry has become more refined and solidified. If it weren't for the critics and the antagonists, I would not be the man, the leader and the pastor I am today.

When you are faced with the critic in your story...Don't get upset. Be grateful that your story is good. Be grateful that your are doing something worthwhile. Anything worth doing always requires hard work, sacrifice and the endurance of criticism.