Posts Tagged ‘Criticism’



March 18, 2014

“And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet  among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses.  He is faithful in all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”  Numbers 12:6

Evangelist Billy Graham speaking at Doak Campb...

I do not care for celebrity pastors.

That is not entirely true.  There are several pastors both alive and dead that I like very much and are, or would be, considered a celebrity under most definitions.  If your definition of celebrity is any person who is famous, then there are many pastors who are celebrities from one degree to another.

So, I do like celebrity pastors … just not all of them.

Joel Osteen

I do not begrudge the fame of those who I like.  I celebrate their notoriety because it creates a larger platform for their message to be heard.  It is the celebrity pastors who I don’t agree with, that I don’t like.  I don’t want them to have the large audiences  to teach what I believe might be detrimental to the kingdom of God.

I am quick to praise those I like;
I am quick to disregard those I don’t.

I struggle to resist our culture of praise and condemnation.  We live in a media environment dominated by critics and fans.  I find it strange that people will stand in line to get an autograph of a pastor.  I find it equally strange that people, who profess Christ, feel free to lob venom-latched bombs of accusation and indictment upon a fellow heir of the kingdom of God.

I believe that our evangelical communities would benefit from a healthy dose of meekness and fear.  Moses’ distinguishing characteristic was meekness.

Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.  (Numbers 12:3)

Now, I don’t know any celebrity pastors.  I do not attend a church led by someone famous.  Therefore, I cannot speak directly to the humility of the famous who occupy pulpits.  All I can comment upon is what I observe from the outside looking in.  From this vantage point, it appears that more meekness among our notable pastors, teachers, and leaders would be very beneficial.

No one would ever confuse Mark Driscoll as a rival to Moses in the category of meekness.  His public persona is almost the opposite of meekness.  That is unfortunate because I believe that much of the current controversy resulting from his plagiarism (Is Driscoll Getting Away with Plagiarism?) would never have happened if he was “very meek” as Moses was.

These individuals who bear the fame that we heap upon them, face an immense temptation.  I do not know what it is like to have someone seek out my autograph.  I can only image the temptations of pride that emanates from seeing your name as author of a best seller, as the keynote speaker, or to be sought out for interviews.  Meekness must be a difficult virtue to hold onto in an environment that continues to reinforce how wonderful you are.

If we believe that the church of our age needs leaders who are meek, then we need to pray for them.  My prayer for Mark Driscoll is that God will use this controversy to teach him humility and meekness.  I am hopeful that is exactly what is happening in Mr. Driscoll’s apology.  My prayer for all famous Christians is that the Lord will give them accountability partners, events, and/or thorns in the flesh that will cause them to keep their eye on Jesus and the things of the Spirit rather than the intoxicating praise of men and women.

I pray that the Lord will deliver them from the temptation of pride.

There is not a pastor, teacher, or religious leader on the face of the earth who is an equal to Moses.  Therefore, they are all open to questioning and accountability.  However, much of the criticism that tries to pass itself off as Christian accountability is often as lacking in meekness as those who they are criticizing.

I believe every person who decides to speak critically of another person would benefit from asking the following questions:

Is my opinion beneficial?  I have learned with age that not all of my many opinions are worth giving a voice.    We should only speak when it will be beneficial to the one of which we are critical and those who they influence.  If what we have to say is not beneficial and to the glory of God, then we should keep our mouths shut.

What are my motivations?  Opinions are often espoused merely to get it off of an opinionated chest or for other selfish reasons.  I have read too many articles where the criticism is leveled in such a way as to show how smart the author is.  That is not a good enough reason to enter into a dialogue that is often too closely akin to gossip.  Aaron and Miriam’s criticism of Moses was based in jealousy.  We are just as susceptible to similar selfish motivation.  If our motivation is rooted in selfishness, then we should keep our mouths shut.

Am I treating them like I would want to be treated?  The golden rule does not cease to be applicable when we decide to give voice to criticism.  We need to treat the famous in the same manner as we would want to be treated.  If we cannot give criticism in the manner that we would want to receive it, then we should keep our mouths shut.

Am I acknowledging my fallibility?  Criticism is often spoken with such confidence and limited information.  I have often had opinions on how pastors should respond only to discover that there was much I did not know.  We should approach any criticism with an abundance of fear in being critical of someone who is doing exactly what God has called them to do.  Our opinions should be interwoven with the acknowledgment that we are fallible and prone to error.  If we cannot offer criticism in humility of our fallibility, then we should keep our mouths shut.

Does love drip off of my criticism?  We can be completely correct in our criticism, but if it is not given in love then it probably will not be received and it will turn-off those who are watching the actions of Christians – it will just be a clanging symbol.  If love is not the overriding characteristic of criticism, then we should keep our mouths shut.

I believe that our default should be to keep our mouths shut.  We should be much slower to speak than we currently are.   We should be even more hesitant to speak a critical word and we should only do it in meekness with an appropriate amount of trepidation.

I don’t see our culture of praise and condemnation changing any time soon.  However, that does not mean we need to join it.  Cultural changes start one person at a time.  So, let’s be counter-cultural by living in meekness and trepidation.

PRAYER: Father, Lord, forgive me of my critical and opinionated spirit.  Forgive me for speaking too often just to hear my own voice.  Help me to keep my mouth shut.  Help me to know when I need to speak.  Help me to speak for the benefit of others, in love, and for your glory.  Father, I need you to keep me walking in your Spirit especially when it comes to expressing my opinions I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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