There’s a clear line between constructive criticism and simply being a critic. I’ve always welcomed constructive criticism, believing that I can learn and grow from anything that’s said in a loving spirit.
I’ve also never been one to wear my feelings on my sleeve. In fact, I’ve always felt I have thick skin when it comes to people’s criticism or unkind comments. That’s why I’ve had a hard time writing this. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, whining or being thin-skinned, because I’m not. I just would like to make a point … there is a shortage of preachers/ministers in this world, and one of the reasons is because of unkind criticism and unrealistic expectations.
This past week Lea and I were a part of a group from Childress that went to Austin to represent our community before our state representatives. Before I left I told my leadership that I was going to have someone cover my Wednesday evening class, just in case I didn’t make it back in time to teach. They agreed.
It just so happened that I did make it back in time this past Wednesday, but still allowed the man who prepared the class to teach the class. One man, when he realized I wasn’t teaching, said loudly enough so everyone could hear, “Hey, why aren’t you teaching tonight?” I tried to briefly explain that I’d been in Austin. His loud response, still in front of everyone, “Don’t we pay you to teach the class?” I chose to ignore that one. Then he topped it off with a, “Maybe you should be looking for a job in Austin,” and then quickly followed it up with a, “You know I’m only kidding you about all this stuff.” At this I simply smiled and said as kind as I could, “If I moved, I wouldn’t get to spend any time with you and that would make me sad.”
Just so you’ll know, I serve a very loving church that treats me WAY better than I deserve. They are loving, supporting and I’m honored to work with them. So why would someone say something like this? Who knows, maybe this man was just having a bad day. He was probably saying what he was thinking, but should have kept it to himself. I’m not mad, nor am I frustrated with a man who didn’t know what he was talking about. What’s important is that we need to realize we need to be kind to one another and not jump to conclusions. Remember the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice … don’t say anything at all.” If you have a problem with someone, talk to them privately in a kind way. I promise it will go much better.
The point I’d like to make is this … please be kind to the people who serve in your churches. They aren’t perfect people, and they’re not always going to be able to please you.