“I didn’t spend months getting this event ready, have tons of sleepless nights, and spend countless hours of prayer and prep for you to come and pick out the littlest mistake! You cold hearted jerk! Don’t you realize that I’ve done my best, that I’m good at what I do, and that you have NO idea what you are talking about- you don’t event know what all I’ve sacrificed to be here!”
This phrase has been at the forefront of my mind more than I’d like to admit. To be honest, way more than a pastor should be allowed…
I just hate it!
Criticism is not my friend. I just can’t handle it. My chest gets tight, my hearts starts racing, and my head starts getting all hot. Then my speech gets all mixed up and my words come out not really meaning what I’m trying to say.
I hate criticism!
To be transparent with you, I’ve spent much of my life finding ways to right people off for their critical remarks. “I don’t need them anyways…” is what I’d say. “They don’t know me!”
A shepherd in a wolf’s clothing…
But I’m starting to learn that not all criticism is from “the devil.” Much of it I think is actually God in disguise!
Today was a hard day for me… I focused a lot on my critics. I spent most of the day alone sulking in my own resentment and trying to find ways to raise my self-esteem.
Then I come home, open my email box to find a little lesson waiting for me.
(I suggest you follow the link before continuing)
I’ve spent quite a bit of the past years studying the life and teachings of Jesus. I’ve read a lot of books and listened to tons of really smart theologians, but I think I’ve missed a big character trait of Jesus…
When we hear stories of Jesus, we hear things like “He’s the good shepherd,” “the Sacrificial Lamb,” or “our present Savior.” Jesus is portrayed many times as a shepherd who tends to His sheep. A man who lays in green pastures, eating honey, and cuddling with some soft sheep.
But Jesus is more than the nice cuddly guy we hear so often. Jesus was a radical who spoke is mind. As I look back through the Gospels, I see things like Jesus calling the “holy-rollers” (Pharasees) out for their pride and fakeness, knocking over tables in the temple like a mad-man, and cursing at a fig tree.
It seems that Jesus was a pretty strong willed dude!
Then I look at the writings of the Apostle Paul (the dude that wrote most of the New Testament) and I think, “Man, this guy can be somewhat of a jerk.” Paul was the kind of guy that spoke his mind as well. When he had a problem, he named names, called out private sin, and straight up chewed some people out! Paul didn’t hold back!
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I struggle ALOT with the “tough guy” Jesus. I don’t like it when He calls me out or isn’t as soft as I’d like Him to be. I like the “Gandhi” Jesus who just talks about loving people and being a better person, but I have a real problem with the “Hulk Hogan” Jesus who picks my pride up and slams it on the floor!
The lesson in all the madness…
But wait, I have some reasoning behind all of this madness and it’s this: their aren’t’ two Jesus’- there’s only One! Jesus is both soft, tender, kind, gentle, and strong, loud, obvious, rough.
So, sometimes, criticism can come straight from the love of God. Even when you feel crushed by the seemingly over analyzed opinions of others, God is working to make you holy because He loves you. He wants you to be rid of the pride in your life.
What seems like constant demeaning dialogue is actually God’s tender, strong voice saying, “Son, I see that you’ve messed up. You know that you could have done this better, but I’ve got to do this. It pains Me to see you hurting, but I love you and you need this.”
So, I’m going to try to hold my anger better when criticism comes my way. It could be Jesus?