4 powerful things criticism tells you about you.

Crushed-by-Criticism-Vector-Image

Everyone is a critic. Don’t believe me? Go on-line to Facebook or twitter during an awards show. Don’t believe me? Ask someone how they feel about a local restaurant, if they like your new haircut, and where you should go on vacation.

We all love to share our opinion. We love it when people ask what we think. Where we tend to have a hard time is when people share their opinion with us. Especially when that opinion is different than ours or when it is aimed at us specifically.

Everyone is a critic but no one likes to be criticized.

One of the best things we can do when others criticize you is to take a look at yourself and ask what does this criticism tell me about me?Here are some of the things that I have found in my life criticism tells me about me.

1. It shows me the things in my life that I hold onto more tightly than I do Christ. – The things that matter to me more than anything else hurt far more when they are poked at by others.
2. It reminds me that I need to care what others think about me but not how often they think about me. We need to care about others but not to the point that our identity and security is informed by what they think about me.
3. It helps me find a joy that is real. It frees me from the need to be loved by others. Jesus said in Luke:

Luke 6:26 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

4. Criticism allows me to a small extent identify with Christ. He was rejected by God and man for us. He was separated from his father so we never have to be. The problem with most of us is we exchange beauty and honor of partaking even in a small portion of the suffering Christ experienced on our behalf because we value comfort and the opinions of man.

1 Peter 4:12-14

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

 

Why Revisionism Matters.

st athanasius

I have been reading a book by Os Guinness entitled “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Lost Art of Christian Persuasion.” In his book Dr. Guinness talks about how we have to move from convincing people to become Christian to persuading them to search for Christ. Towards the end of the book he talks about the dangers of revisionism. Revisionism advocates for change in longstanding doctrines that the church has believed to be true over the course of thousands of years. Guinness speaks to the dangers that revisionism has on the Church and Christian Orthodoxy. Revisionism is not just a liberal concept it can be found in both the liberal and conservative wings of Christianity. What Guinness has to say is both telling and challenging. It is telling because it is becoming more widespread it is challenging because it calls us to action. It requires us to do more than sit back and wait for the dust to settle. What we believe to be true must be founded in love but we must be faithful to what is true.

How does this play into kids and youth ministry? We can no longer teach our kids to be good citizens we must prepare them to be Christian advocates. We must teach them what is true so they do not make decisions based on what they experience, that feels true. Our job as pastors of the young in our flock is not just to create spaces that are creative and fun but we must teach them what is true.

Relevance is not giving people what they want, it’s giving them what they need. Sometimes they don’t even know they need it. What kids need from us is a is not just facts about life and ways to do life better they need a new framework to see the world. Without a framework their facts about life will wither under the relentlessness of the experience that our generation uses to trump truth. We can not run away or put our head in the sand we must meet the challenge of our day full force with the timeless truth that has been handed to us. Here is what Os Guinness says in his book “Fools Talk” about liberal Christian revisionists.

Christian advocates, then, must be ready to focus their attention on those inside the church as well as those outside— resisting modern revisionism just as St. Paul resisted ancient Gnosticism and St. Athanasius stood fast against Arianism and the world of his day. Are today’s evangelists and apologists prepared to count the cost and pick up their crosses again and truly be contra mundum— even to the point of scorn, shame, and perhaps imprisonment and death? Let there be no misunderstanding: the greatest crisis now facing the church in the West today is the crisis of authority caused by the church’s capitulation to the pressures of the sexual revolution, and in particular to the bullying agenda of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer coalition. It will not do for evangelists and apologists to keep silent for fear of losing opportunities to present the gospel. As Luther made plain in his day, to fight the battle at any point other than where the battle is being fought in one’s day is to lose the battle.

Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous regret in failing to stand against National Socialism in his time carries an equivalent warning for evangelists and apologists today. They raised the question of authority, but I was an evangelist and an apologist and not a theologian, so I didn’t stand up . . .

The Hidden Danger of Leading in a Large Church.

quote-all-god-s-giants-have-been-weak-men-who-did-great-things-for-god-because-they-reckoned-on-his-james-hudson-taylor-271571

Large church and small churches both have challenges. Small churches are usually struggling to grow large while large churches struggle to find ways to be small. There are leadership challenges in every church of every size. One of the challenges I have found from being on the staff of a church that has grown over the past several years is the danger of overspecialization. When you work in a small church, you are forced to be the jack of all trades. You have to prepare a message for Sunday, do marriage counseling, and perform a funeral all in the same week. In a large church, you often have enough staff that you can focus on what you are best at and learn to do that very well. If the church were a business, this idea of focusing on what you do best would be a great idea, but the church is not a business. One side effect of the church borrowing so heavily from the business world and leadership gurus is that the church now has more middle managers than pastors. When as a Pastor you only do what you are good at you run the risk of building the church but losing your soul.

Leading by doing only the things we are good at most often leads us down the path of unintentional self-reliance. Somewhere along the line, we cross from God-dependence to self-reliance, and when that line is crossed the church starts to die and so do we. The scariest reality is that your church could continue to grow even as it is dying, and we never figure it out until it’s too late. Pastors are not CEO’s and understanding your strengths is important, but the Bible tells us that leading in the way of Christ is different even appear foolish to those who may be looking from the outside in. How does the Bible say we are to lead? I believe the Bible goes out of its way to show us that we are to lead from our weakness. Leading from our strength may make us more effective but I don’t think it makes us more dependent. There is something about leading in an area we are weak in that reminds us of what has always been true we are weak, and he is strong. We see from Scripture and understand from experience that when we feel the strongest that’s when we are the most weak. It is when we feel our weakest that we lean most on the only person who can sustain us. My fear is that in the modern church when we talk of growth, management, and effectiveness, we fail to talk about dependence, hope and peace.

Can Partnering with Parents Become a Reality?

FIRST STEPS CARD Bible Front

One of the things I am learning nearly 20 years into family ministry is that we often give parents good information at the wrong time. We have more tools at our disposal and bigger budgets than ever before, but we seem to be missing it. We have better looking take home papers than we did 20 years ago and amazing apps to help parents but most things I’ve tried haven’t really hit home. Our problem is that we give them amazing resources but at the wrong time.

If we really want to partner with families and most people I have talked to do want to partner with families, we have to think not in terms of what do I have to offer but more in terms of what questions do the families in my church need answers or resources to. Partnering with parents primarily requires a church that sees the value of families and provides resources and programming that make that value an experienced reality.

Why You Should Always Skip Your Kids’ Baseball Games

The danger of helicopter parenting in turbulent times

Team_on_Bench_Cropped


Baseball season is starting up and if you know me at all you know that I love the game of baseball. I came across an article on PBS’s blog talking about how as a parent you should be less involved in your kids life. I have to admit they got me with the title. We live in a day where the definition of good parenting is over-involvement in your kids lives until they are well into their 2o’s. So the combination of baseball and the encouragement of parents to be less involved I found too tempting to pass up.
 
The article was well worth the read. While I’d disagree with him on a few of his points and probably with how he applies them to make a point, the overall idea is something I agree with completely. In our desire to give a better life for our kids than we have, we remove any obstacles or opportunity for pain that helped us become who we are today. Ironically we protect them from the very things that will make them stronger adults. We solve their problems rather than give them the tools to learn to solve them for themselves.
 
Daniel Pink the well-known author of controversial books such as Drive, and A Whole New Mind. Pink has this to say about the dangers of parental over-involvement specifically in sports like baseball:
 

What few of us well-meaning parents realize, but that any professional athlete will tell you, is that when kids look to us on the sidelines for approval or consolation or even orange slices, part of them is distracted from what really counts, the mastery of something difficult, the obligations to teammates, the game itself.
 – Daniel Pink –