I forgot what it was like to be criticized by people I attempted to serve for the Lord Jesus’ sake. I was reminded of what it was like as I read a fresh email including criticism of me, my character, my leadership, and my family. It was a good punch in the stomach. Let me say that I don’t know specifically who my critics are. I’d like to keep it that way unless they want to speak to me directly. So I don’t have particular people in mind. Additionally, I love all of those I know from CFBC. I can honestly and wholeheartedly say I don’t have any malice, ill-feeling, or resentment towards any member of my former local church.
I want to answer these criticisms
This is the first and natural reaction. It’s pride and self-centeredness in me that wants to protect my reputation in the minds of these critics and those who hear their criticism. But does God want me to answer them? Will it glorify him? I don’t think so. Mark Driscoll always quotes Billy Graham for saying that he turns his critics into coaches. I think that’s good advice.
I’m tempted to be dictated by these critics and criticisms in a reverse way
I wanted to write a tribute to my old church CFBC and to one of my fathers in faith and ministry, Pastor Ed Ormeo (by the way, Pastor Ed is not one of the critics as the email made clear). I wanted to do this for over a year now. But I procrastinate. The church made me a pastor, not the seminary. Pastor Ed taught me the Bible, the gospel, and servanthood that shaped me in my most formative years. But the critics have said that I’m not grateful for the church and don’t love the church nor care for my former pastor. So my temptation is: don’t write the tribute now because it will look like a response to criticism. But my not writing it would also be dictated by the criticism. So I’ll continue to desire to write it and try to get around to it soon.
I need to learn from this
My daughter is crying in her room right now as she tries to sleep. She’s distraught. But neither my wife or I are attending to her. It’s not because we don’t love her. Quite the opposite. It’s because we love her. She needs to learn that in laying down in her room at night by the grace of God she’ll be ok. As I finished typing right now about her situation she stopped crying and went back to sleep. Another lesson learned. It hurts to hear criticism. But God doesn’t run to me to take the situation away. And it’s not because he doesn’t love me. Quite the opposite. He uses the situation to teach me some things, more things than I can discern.
What God is teaching me
The first thing I learn is to continue to learn to take criticism as a means to glorify him. These are golden opportunities to grow in joy, steadfastness, and completion of character (James 1:2-4). Moments like this are valuable and not to be wasted. The second thing I’m learning is that the culture of godly criticism and godly encouragement at Capitol Hill Baptist Church should be pursued here at CrossView Church. I need to be vigilant in inviting critique and the perspective of others on my leadership, the church, and our mission.
Remembering close times with God in my previous pastorate
As I read the list of criticisms emailed to me the first thoughts were defensive replies to the criticism. The second response was me imagining hearing God say, “Be quiet PJ. Listen and learn from these. Draw near to me as your treasure and find your peace in me.” So I drew near to God. The peace of God is guarding my heart and it is a sweet place to be. To God be the glory in Jesus Christ!