"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Censure and Criticism From Fellow Christians Unavoidable?

There is in all of us a desire to be liked by others. Some of us, according to John Piper in his new book Contending For Our All, may think that we can be kind enough to avoid criticism by our Christian friends.

This will not work, especially if we have any public role. You cannot be kind enough and merciful enough that no one will criticize you. The religious leaders called our Master "Beelzebub" and He was the epitome of mercy and grace.

Piper gives Mother Theresa as an another illustration. Whatever you may have thought of her spirituality or theology, you cannot deny Mother Teresa's soft heart and compassion toward the people of this world. Yet, Germain Greer cricticizes Mother Theresa by saying . . .

"At my convent school, the pious nuns who always spoke softly and inclined their heads with a small, patient smile were the ones to fear. They became the mother superiors. Mother Theresa is not content with running a convent; she runs an order of Mother Thersa clones, which operates world-wide. In anyone less holy, this would be seen as an obscene ego trip . . . Mother Teresa epitomizes for me the blinkered charitableness upon which we pride ourselves and for which we expect reward in this world and the next. There is very little on earth that I hate more than I hate that" (quoted in First Things, January 1993, p. 65).

Mother Teresa? Arrogant, egotistic, power-hungry, obscene, worthy of hate?

A life completely devoted to compassion, as Mother Teresa's, does not exempt one from criticism from other professing Christians.

What makes any of us think we should be exempt from it either?

In His Grace,


Wade

11 comments:

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Wade,

As I said last time, this is a lesson I am learning. About a year ago I was facing a tough decision in my church, and I told my D.O.M., Dr. Jerry Christopher, "I'm afraid of what will happen if . . ."

He said to me, "Just do the right thing, based on the Bible and in obedience to Christ, and let people thingk what they will think. God has not given us a spirit of fear."

So, I agree with what you have written here, and I'm learning the lesson, but it's still hard for me not to try pleasing everyone.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

LivingDust said...

I believe it was our Lord Jesus who was known to use righteous rebuke, censure, criticism and sarcasm in His dealings with various people and groups. Would it be right to say that malicious criticism is a sin and constructive criticism is a sign of confidence towards another person?

Theophilus said...

I find it it is far easier to criticize someone I only know by reputation. When I get to know them and see them as a person it is much harder to critize because now they are a real person and perhaps even a friend. Now if a have concerns about them, I go to them, according to the scripture (Eph 4:15; Gal 6:1; Matt 18:15ff).

yes2truth said...

Hello Mr Burleson,

When rejected by my own family because of my belief in The Lord Jesus and not getting along with the religious system of the Anglican/Episcopalian monstrosity, being liked by people in general is something I gave up on, a long time ago.

Jesus said: "They hated me so they will hate you." That, just about sums it up I think.

As for Mother Teresa, the Scriptures Matt 7:22-23 come to mind Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The word 'many' here is a good example of English understatement. It should read a great multitude. Now these people are not unbelievers they are 'Christians' or people that have possibly conned us into thinking they're Christians. Unfortunately for some this includes Mother Teresa for she was quoted, when asked if she minded using money originating from organised crime (The Mob), She said no she was not interested in where the money came from.

I have to presume Our Lord will use the very same words I have quoted above, to her.

y2t

knnuki said...

True words, Wade. Reminds me of Lk 7 where Jesus said "to what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say "we played the flute for you and did not dance; we sand a dirge, and you did not weep" For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say "he has a demon!" The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say "behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a freind of tax-gatherers and sinners!"

Jesus said it too: you can't please everyone and that is not even a worthy goal. Living for Christ is about pleasing One and One alone. Inevitably, someone, somewhere is not going to like it when you do that.

Greg Cloud said...

Wade,

No one likes criticism. It smarts and stings. We fear it, and often it makes us go along with the crowd to make decisions in a democratic setting that we know are wrong. There's a psychological term for this phenomenon, but I can't think of it right off hand...where with we end up with a 'democratically' derived decision that no one agrees with, but everyone is afraid to criticise for fear of such ostracism as you have experienced recently. Such is the weakness of 'democratic' governance, and that is how a few folks with no hesitation about using forceful criticism can railroad a 'democratic' institution and mold it to their will.

This explains the flip-flopping of BOT votes in recent meetings, how they can vote for such outrageously unscriptural policies, vote to eject a member who dares to go against the flow, and then, when the tide of public opinion is against them, vote the complete opposite in the following meeting. No strong holding to ideological issues or beliefs here: Typical group psychology---fear of criticism, desire above all else of acceptance and approval by the group, even if it means doing something you know is wrong. Not Christ led, but fear led.

This is why the Kingdom of God is not a democracy...it's an absolute monarchy. Are we listening to the King in our decisions, or do we make decisions based upon fear of criticism or of losing our position/job? The only opinion of us that matters is the King's. We must get over our fear of this human criticism. Christ did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Boldness and self-control.

Thanks,
In Christ...

Greg

Arkansas Razorbaptist said...

Wade,

This is the value you bring as an
experienced pastor. So please, remove from your mind this notion that you might give up your blog. Southern Baptist's need your leadership, especially our younger pastors -- and a few older ones too.

As you know, there are so many well-meaning men in our convention
who fall flat on their faces because of earnest and honest attempts to please everyone in their churches.
Speaking specifically of church life, critics of pastors -- you know the type, those who like to complain and fight because they like to complain and fight, often draw their swords over a pastor's methods of leading and not the end to which the pastor leads. This is not the case all of the time.

When one tries to please everyone it opens one up to so many problems, which can make church life unbearable -- I've seen it happen.

So what is the answer?

A pastor that is resolute in leadership, transparent in approach, guided by the Holy Spirit and, most of all, gracious in execution will be, I believe, a successful pastor/shepherd.

Will this approach silence all the critics? No, but it will silence many of them and earn one respect, from one’s congregation in the process – I’ve seen it happen.

Wade, keeping on blogging to the glory of God.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

I grew up with a "Fat Boy" complex (because I WAS). Among other things, that generates insecurity.

One of the lingering results of that is the feeling that I'm wrong whenever anyone disagrees with me.

My personal history teaches me that particular feeling is one of my best friends. Whenever someone criticizes, disagrees, talks about me, etc., it naturallly hurts. But it forces me to examine what I've said or done, and that's been a real blessing for me. I think we need to justify to ourselves, and affirm for ourselves, what we believe, every day.

As long as others in the church are as imperfect as I am, that's going to be sadly common.

God said we'd be blessed when we were persecuted for His name's sake. He didn't say that would always be from the heathen.

In fact, John 16:2 tells me Jesus knew such was coming.

I just keep reciting Proverb 16:7 to myself. Every day.

God bless.

Paul Fries said...

Wade, While in the Air Force I once worked for a Colonel who stated, if you are charge and can keep half the people happy all the time you are a great leader!

Two thoughts I think each of us must keep in mind.

One, how do I give criticism?
Two, how do I receive criticism?

As you said, "It will happen."
Paul

Anonymous said...

Brother Wade,
I'm proud to call you brother even though I have never meet you. I know you are humble, full of GOD’S GRACE, full of the SPIRIT and you love JESUS CHRIST as much as Paul. JESUS is TRUTH and Paul preached GOD'S WORD.
Paul said “Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
I have spend a lot of time. (55 years) defending the truth in my life. My best friend JESUS taught me that the TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE. I have defended that truth and it has gained me bothers and sisters in CHRIST. I have lost some so called friends, but I have such enter peace and joy. Wade I pray you continue doing what you have been gifted to do. Stand up for TRUTH, Preach the WORD, and continue blogging,
My Prayers are with You and Yours.
A Brother in CHRIST

patrickbarrett said...

Hey pastor Burleson,

first of all, thanks for the advice to just "ask" yesterday. I did ask, and I received an email this afternoon about attending as a messenger in June. I'm just waiting on the card now:)

I'm excited to attend the convention without being completely disconnected from my own local church. Thank you I guess doesn't come close for all that you are doing to foster cooperation in the SBC. Sorry this wasn't a comment on your post..just wanted to say thanks. My wife and I (and many others) have been praying for you!