Statler and Waldorf?
In ministry, God often allows critics in the gallery—people who don’t seem to understand that everyone else is fragile, human, and working together. Maybe they say hurtful things to you or your family. Maybe they just stubbornly refuse to join the community.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (v.6-7). In ministry (as in marriage, parenting, and friendship) these verses are easy to quote and difficult to practice. We find it so easy to assume bad motives when we see others lacking. But God, who is himself love, commands the more excellent way of seeking good.
I experienced this kind of love through theater of another kind. When I was in college, I took “World Drama.” I was an English major, but the problem with this class was its deadly time slot: 2-3:30 PM. One day, the overheated classroom and siesta hour defeated my otherwise-studious intentions: I fell asleep in the middle of a lecture on Chekov.
When I got back to my dorm after class, the telephone was ringing. I answered it to hear my professor’s voice, “Megan,” he said, “you didn’t look like you felt well today in class, and I wanted to make sure you were okay. Are you?” Ooh, I was embarrassed! But I was also touched. The professor obviously cared enough to believe the best of me (I was getting sick) rather than the worst (I was napping in class.) His demonstration of love motivated me to stay awake in class for the rest of the semester.
As I meet critics, I try, by God’s grace, to practice this same all-believing, all-hoping love that my professor showed me. Why are they acting in a destructive way? Maybe they’ve lost a child, been served with divorce papers, or heard the diagnosis, “kidney failure.” They might need my sympathetic love rather than my frustration. Who knows? Maybe Statler and Waldorf had arthritis.