Responding to critics is an interesting test of one’s faith. Being a pastor means that people will not agree with things I teach or believe or even how I teach them. Staying faithful to what the Bible says can be seen as “intolerant” and the response can be one of anger and slander.
When someone comes at me with critiques or “concerns” (because “concerns” are usually just a polite way to criticize) my first reaction is to punch back. However hitting back or defending myself reveals unbelief in me. What do I mean? I believe that I am such a sinner that it took the death of God to save me. I believe that my King is the one who “when reviled did not revile back” and went to the cross for me in the midst of mockery. This Truth must be the lens I look through when critiques are thrown my way.
What that means is, first off, I have faced the ultimate critique on the cross. I am such a bad person that what I deserve happened to Jesus on the cross. No matter what anyone says against me, I can look at the cross and realize they have no idea how bad or messed up I really am. Second my standard for living by the grace of God, secure in the finished work of Christ as my identity, is to become more like Christ. I won’t live up to this but this is where the Spirit working through me is leading me. So when critiques come instead of defending myself or fighting back I can walk in the footsteps of my Savior and keep my mouth shut. I can, because of Jesus, seek the humility to learn from the critiques that come towards me, Redemption Church, my family or my theology. If the critiques come because of my stand for Christ, then because of Jesus I can stand firm, endure to the end and trust it all to Him who has faced much worse.
God doesn’t want me to justify myself before the world, He wants me to trust that He has fully justified me through His Son before Him. He wants me to walk in humility, to stand boldly and to love Him and others all by the power of the Spirit working through me.
Do I do this perfectly? Hardly, but by God’s Grace He is teaching me much.
How do you respond to critiques? Do you try to make everyone happy or punch back?