September 3, 2012

Criticism: Advice from the Archives

This week's post is from the archive, originally posted in April 2011.  We'll be back with a new post next week.

Watching a Muppet Show episode with my family, it occurs to me that The Muppet Show is a good analogy for ministry life: a loveably zany cast of characters who are simultaneously friends, family, and co-workers.

Though flawed, the Muppets gamely tug the show along to its final curtain. And then, from the gallery, we hear voices—aloof, demanding, critical.

Have you met 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.

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday, I encountered a critical person, who made me feel defensive. God helped me to remember a particular struggle this man is facing. By His grace, I did not respond in kind. But, it is something we need to stay aware of constantly.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...