It’s been said, “A critic is someone who is quick on the flaw,” and in case you haven’t noticed … our world is full of people like that. Unfortunately, so is the church.
In his excellent book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Chuck Swindoll wrote, “People in ministry are like lightning rods. Every pastor, every Christian leader, every Christian musician, every Christian author I know can tell his or her own stories of times they’ve been verbally assaulted. I have found the more effective the ministry, the larger the number of critics.” 1
He went on to say, “Criticism always comes when we least need it … seems to come when we least deserve it … comes from people who are least qualified to give it ... (and) ... frequently comes in a form that is least helpful to us.” 2
One of Aesop’s fables was about an old man and his grandson who went to town with a donkey. The grandfather put his grandson on the donkey until he heard people saying, “Look at that selfish boy making that old man walk!” So, the granddad, sensitive to the criticism of his grandson, asked the boy to walk while he rode. But the people continued to criticize and said, “Look at the selfish old man riding while he makes that poor little boy walk.”
So, the grandfather got down and both he and his grandson walked. Then the people said, “Look at those two poor fools. They’ve got a donkey but they’re not even using it.” So, they both got on the donkey and rode. But the people criticized that. They said, “Can you believe how those cruel people are abusing that animal. Why, they’re going to break that poor donkey’s back riding him like that!” So, the old man and his grandson got down and carried the donkey into town.
True, it’s a fable. But the point nonetheless is valid.
A pastor friend of mine likes to say, “The only way to avoid criticism is to always say what everyone wants to hear. But that makes you a false prophet.”
JESUS put it this way, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). We’ve all met people who are like a needle in a balloon factory. You aren’t around them very long before they pop off about something and usually, their cutting comments leave you saying, “Ouch!” while you’re still wondering, “What was the point?”
God has called us to be PRAISERS, not APPRAISERS. A praiser commends. An appraiser judges. A praiser values others and what they do. An appraiser determines if something has value or not. A praiser accentuates the positive and eliminates the negative. An appraiser evaluates both and usually elevates the petty over the priority. A praiser sees the good and overlooks the not so good. In contrast, the appraiser tends to notice the negative, focus on the flaws, and rarely misses a mistake. Unfortunately, appraisers see this ability as a gift even though no one else shares their assessment.
“We’ve all met people who are like a needle in a balloon factory. You aren’t around them very long before they pop off about something.”
Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
Proverbs 11:27 says, “Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it.”
So are you a Praiser or an Appraiser? Our world could sure use more praisers – people who look for the good and see the best in everyone and everything.
We’ve got way more than our unfair share of self-appointed speck checkers.
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
1 Swindoll, Charles R. Paul: a Man of Grace and Grit. Thomas Nelson, 2009. Pg. 232-260
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.