Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dealing with Criticism

I rarely feel totally comfortable and qualified to share my opinion on a subject. But if I was ever going to feel like I has something worthwhile to offer it would be this on handling criticism. That’s not because I’m an expert either. I’ve just gotten this one wrong so much that I’m able to spot when somethings off. Not being able to handle criticism and conflict was the cause of my failure in ministry on my first go around. It took six years of work by God (through secular management) to get me to the point where I could be most effective for Him in the Church. I’m now able to look back on those three years of failure and six years 0f growing and see His hand-prints all over my life. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way. Though they are not in order of importance, they really do flow in order from one to the next.

First, even if the criticism is meant to be personal, don’t take it personally. NOTHING positive will result from that, ever. If you receive criticism (especially as a leader) it’s most likely that you’re being criticized for what you stand for or a decision that you’ve made. That’s not personal. That type (of criticism) is directly related to your role or position that you occupy.

Second, don’t get defensive. Another way of saying this – don’t build up a wall, set up camp behind it and start tossing hand grenades over it. This will lead to immediate conflict and potential damage to the relationship. Defensiveness is really a sign of immaturity and lack of accountability. Those are traits that we should definitely avoid.

Third, LISTEN to what the other person has to say. By actively listening to the persons’ concerns (nice word for criticism) you are validating them and communicating to them that their opinion matters to you and that they matter to you. And in the process you are earning respect and building trust.

Fourth, sit in their seat and see it from their perspective. Chances are, you’ll realize that they really do have something to offer you in terms of improving and growing. It’s rare that a person is just blowing hot air, wanting to be difficult and really has nothing valuable to offer. Most of the time, people have valid concerns and by listening to them you can learn, grow and improve yourself and likely the situation or organization that you’re both involved in.

Fifth, be grateful that the person chose to bring their criticism to you. Don’t think for a moment that Satan wasn’t encouraging them to take it to everyone else but you. Now, instead of just being part of a problem that you may know nothing about, you can be part of a solution to one. That’s definitely something to be grateful for. Don’t forget to express your gratitude to the person. If the person is there with pure motives, this type of reaction will win them over. If their motives are questionable, this type of reaction will blow them away (because they are probably ready for a fight).

Sixth, and most important, pray together. For all my deficiencies and failures, I’ve never once made things worse by asking the other person to pray with me.

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Dangerous Lines

Ever notice how some people delight in walking up to “the line,” examining its clarity and stepping over it? I’ve never given it much thought. Probably because I’m always looking for the next line to cross. That’s not something to boast in. I don’t think. Certainly, I’ve disappointed myself, my parents (and even my wife) on too many occasions because of my cheerful inclination to challenge the status quo. It’s seems that some people have a particular passion for this behavior. I suppose that some of us line chasers simply lack the moral compass that would point us in a more favorable direction. But for others (I hope to include myself in this category) it’s more of a desire to know why–why is that line placed in that location–instead of over there? Does it help me? Does it help someone else? Is it necessary? Does the line drawer doubt my ability to make an informed and responsible decision?–and then judge for ourselves if that line is worthy of our submissive obedience.

If you find this disregard for the line to be morally reprehensible or contemptuous, then you may belong to those who equally as cheerfully locate the line and set up a holy commune at least one mile away from it. For us chasers, the commune is fine–albeit a little strange, but fine nonetheless. We do seem to take exception when the commune elects a line sheriff and charges him or her with the responsibility of guarding that one mile radius like it’s a demilitarized zone that leads to very gates of hell.

Believe it or not, I have actually spent the past few hours contemplating this dichotomy. I’ve been considering the merits of each view and critically examining my own place in the discussion. On some points I have determined my attitude to be out of bounds and in need of repentance. On other points, I have become annoyed, if not upset, with some of the sheriffs that I know. One in particular has my attention at this moment.

A congregation with which I have become acquainted believes strongly that their assembly ought not worship with musical instruments. Good for them. While I do not share in their method or rationale for arriving at that conclusion, I nonetheless concur. So in that way, we have both identified the line, agreed that it ought to be there and that we all should give it due respect and attention. However, this congregation has nominated for themselves a few sheriffs that have determined to move their camp back about two miles on the subject. In doing so they have turned their property into the reincarnation of Israel’s Holy Temple and decreed that no musical instrument or recording of a musical instrument being played shall ever be brought into the building regardless of the occasion (including a wedding). Make that five miles back.

And you wonder why some of us ask why?

What is the point of this? I have learned the hard way not to make assumptions. That being said, it may be that their sheriffs are: ignorant of the Holy Scriptures, power hungry and desire to flex their muscles  or prefer their traditions over the desires of people. Maybe it’s none of those or some combination of all three. I don’t know. I’m not sure if it even matters?

So what? That’s their church and their choice. Agreed.

It’s just so very disappointing that they have decided to condemn anyone who has violated their five mile wide demilitarized zone. I just want to make sure that instead of drawing lines, I’m spending my time looking for the ones that the Holy Spirit has already marked.

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Praying for the Church and It’s Leaders

Almighty Father,

You know our hearts. You know our deepest intentions. You know our deepest motivations. Father, I pray that your Church is faithfully fulfilling your will for us. I pray Father that if we are not, that you would show us the way, convict us of the need and give us the tools to find our way home.

Thank you for being patient with us. Thank you for waiting on us. Thank you for not giving up on us. Please Father, give the leaders of your Church throughout the world the ability to recognize your Truth and the courage to teach and to live it! Help me Father, to seek your will, to live it passionately and to communicate it clearly.  Help us all to seek your approval first and above all else.

My words can’t express my love and resounding humility as I consider your holiness and my unworthiness. I want to be yours. I want to serve you and know you. I want to be with you. Please Father, take my hand and show me the way. Amen

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21 for 21

Father God,

As I listened to stories of abused children today, I heard you. I heard your voice whisper to me as the violence and turmoil in those kids lives was shared. Father, help me to hurt when your creation hurts. And Father, help me to reach out my hand to love and encourage and uplift when your precious children have been hurt and marginalized and pushed down. Father, please trust me with opportunities to be Jesus in the lives of kids who have not yet seen him. Father, fix my impatience with my own children. Remind me to set high expectations but to allow them the room to be kids. Molly and I sincerely see each of our children as your children; and as a blessing that you have trusted us with. We desire so greatly to return your children to you, having taught them to walk in your love, and to honor and glorify you with their lives. Please forgive me for my failures in that. And Father God, please mend my faults and make me into the parent you want me to be.

Father, I close this prayer by thanking you and by making one more request. You have heard our prayers on behalf of Teresa and BJ. For that I thank you. I know that you are working in that situation on your schedule and in your way. Whether he pulls through or not, is under your control. But Father, I am so thankful that you have restored to Teresa the peace of knowing you and your power. My last request is this, please give me another opportunity to reach out to BJ’s friends. So many of our family have prayed diligently for them. And so many of our family have tried so hard to show them your Son. Please God, give me one more chance.

Father, please keep my wife and children in the care of your eternal and powerful arms. Thank you for patiently molding me into the image of your Son. Amen.

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Lord,

I have always been struck by the power of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. Lord, please hear my prayer now for myself and the people who you know weigh on my heart.

For this reason , Father, I kneel before you, knowing that it is from you that every family in heaven and on the earth is named. I pray now, Holy Lord, that according to the wealth of your glory that you would grant us to be strengthened with power through your Spirit in the inner person and that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, so that, because we have been rooted and grounded in love we might be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to you Lord who by the power that is working within us, is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to you be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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21 for 21

Father God,

As I consider your words, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us,” I am struck by the finality of loving like you love.

I am trying to live with my heart what you have taught me to know: that Love, your Love, is the answer to every question and to every problem. God I think of all the things I haven’t done; or about all the things I can’t do; or about all the things that I’ve done wrong and wish I could undo. But reading this scripture reminds me that your love is what’s final. So now, by working through the power of your love I am able to do the things I chose to ignore and avoid; I’m able to do things I didn’t think I could do; and I live with the understanding that you’re able to repair damage caused by the wrongs that I have done.

I’m sorry for all the time that I spent ignoring and doubting the power of your Love. Please help me to not let a single day pass where I don’t reflect on what you’ve done for me because of your love; and what I want to do because of your Love. I love you so much. I promise to do my best to live my life so that you will be proud of me.

~Your Loving Son and Servant.

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21 for 21

Our congregation has committed to being a family of prayer. In order to help us further develop the spiritual discipline of prayer in our lives we have engaged in a brief season of purposeful prayer. For the next 21 days we will be spending 21 minutes per day in communion with our Heavenly Father. As a way of encouragement, I will be blogging part of my prayer time over the course of the next 21 days. Please join me in creating a stronger attitude of prayer in your life.

Father God,                                                                                                                                           As we embark on this brief journey I ask that you would take control of our efforts and that you would work in our lives. I pray now that you would help me to understand more fully and accept with more sincerity exactly who You are and Where I stand in relation to that reality. Father, teach me to lean on you as the sustainer of my life. Father, I want you to be embedded in my life so that I would never think of you as my personal 911 operator. Father, I have failed in that many times and I fear that more failures are in my future. But Father I do rest in your peace of knowing that you love me and that your Grace is truly and wholly sufficient for me.

Father, it seems like I have more noise in my life than ever. Even with a”job” that both allows and forces me to focus on You and Your Word, I still see many distractions in my life. I know those are not from You. I know that whatever noise I hear and whatever distractions I see are put there by Satan. Father, help me, each day to push those aside and focus on you.

Father, as I conclude this prayer I want to ask for your help in reaching out to the many people that you have put in my life recently. I thank you for trusting me with the opportunity to share Your Son with people that don’t know Him. I am proud to be used by You. Please help me to be effective as I strive to make you proud of me. I love you so much. I don’t understand your patience with me. But I will live my life trying to thank you for it. Amen.

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