Early this morning I read a devotional thought by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church. He pointed out the value of criticism to an effective leader.
“The truth is, your biggest critics often help you out the most—unintentionally. They may mean to hurt you, but God can use that criticism to teach you and make you the kind of pastor he wants you to be.”
Those entrusted with the mantle of leadership understand it comes with a target on your back. Leaders make decisions. Leaders lead. Leaders take risks. Therefore leaders will face sabotage, and will often feel the sting of criticism from the “loyal opposition.”
I believe the “loyal opposition” plays a significant role in the life of a leader. These loyal friends often keep leaders humble and challenge them to think deeply and lead well. If leaders surround themselves with “yes men” who simply tickle their ears with platitudes it will not be long before pride will win the day and sudden collapse is not far behind.
Warren noted the words of Proverbs.
Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honored. Proverbs 18:13 ESV
To be frank, I fear criticism. It hurts. It discourages, but I am learning that when I handle it like eating fish–“eat the meat and spit out the bones.” Criticism helps me to lead more effectively. I must constantly remind myself that my critics love and are vested in the mission of the organization I lead. They speak up because the care, and every leader knows he or she needs people who care. It is those who silently walk away that break my heart.
Let me close by sharing two of Warren’s keen observations about criticism from the “loyal opposition.”
Don’t consider the source; consider the suggestion.
Never let a critic set your agenda. That’s God’s job. Never let a critic keep you from doing what God has called you to do.
Lead well today!
A strong determined handful of Texas Baptists led by staffers Rand Jenkins, John Hall and Ferrell Foster are biking across Texas to raise the awareness of our state to the plight of the hungry. Below is a post by Jenkins that captures the reality in the story of one child:
By Rand Jenkins
I’ve been asked a lot this week, “Why are you doing this?” and one of the first reasons that comes to mind is this story.
In a suburb of a large town in Texas, one where you wouldn’t expect to find hunger issues, a third grade boy, “Tyler,” was a well behaved model student. One Monday morning, a typical morning, the teacher comes in, puts her items on her desk in front of the class, turns on her computer, places her paper sack lunchbox on the desk and begins class.
About that time, the teacher turned her back to write on the white board. Behind her she heard fast footsteps, the crinkle of a paper sack being grabbed and then the slam of the schoolroom door. She turned around, and saw Tyler was missing and so was the sack lunch.
The teacher excused herself from the classroom, went out into the hall and found Tyler there eating her lunch. She asked, “Why did you take my lunch?” Tyler, with a mouth full of sandwich and chips, looked down, embarrassed and said, “Well, I was home all weekend. I ate lunch Friday, but that was it. I was just so hungry. I saw your lunch and thought about the punishment, but I was just so hungry.”
During the school year, the government provides low-cost or free meals to those in need. However, on the weekends and summer, many of these children have no meals and no food at home. The same money and food are available for your church or civic organization to step up and be the distribution point for the food. It will cost you nothing but time. Contact us on how you can get this going in your organization.
To date over $9,000 has been raised, but more importantly hundreds of people are now aware and responsible for what they know. We cannot continue to turn our eyes aware from those who are hungry in Texas.
Recently I read in the Baptist Standard a letter to the editor from a youth minister in Bangs. He wrote:
If we are going to go around and ask churches to stop using or associating with the BGCT or SBC because of homosexuality, then we should ask every church that has people living in sin to do the same. Somehow, I do not feel many churches would be left.
We are all broken people. We all need the grace of God to fall upon us. If we want to change people’s lives, we must let them in and teach them. I just don’t want us Christians to pick and choose which sin is “worthy” of discipline. If we continue to do this, we will lose contact with those who really need to hear and see Jesus’ teachings lived out.
As I read his reflections, there was so much I resonated with in his thoughts and perspective. Without doubt the gospel of Jesus is the hope for our nation. He is so right, our churches need to be safe places for all who struggle regardless of the nature of their sin.
I would also add that we must remember that the real issue at hand is not the selection of a “sin” that defines fellowship, but rather the “redefining of sin” especially when it come to spiritual leadership. Clearly all sin is serious. However, when a church, theologian, or movement “redefines” what the Scriptures teach about a sin or practice a serious boundary has been crossed with the potential of very serious consequences.
The tension between the holiness of God and the grace of God forces the followers of Jesus to minister with their eyes fixed on God’s righteousness and the brokenness of people. Broken people need the Lord, and they need the truth–because as Jesus said, “If you continue in my words, you will be my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31
Over the past couple of weeks I have found myself trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Simply put life has moved a bit too fast. For those loyal readers and followers of my blog I apologize. I have enjoyed over the past three years the opportunity to share my thoughts, experiences, and insights. I have especially enjoyed the dialogue and feedback.
I hope the world will slow down soon. In the coming days I am going to be reflecting on a number of recent experiences and events. Over the past couple of weeks I had the honor to take part in the inauguration of Dr. Ellis at Howard Payne, the first Founder’s Day dinner under the new president of Buckner’s International Dr. Albert Reyes, and the meeting of the Unification Committee that reviewed the historic agreement between the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Hispanic Baptist Convention. These three events speak to the broad scope of the work of Texas Baptists.
I close with these words:
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Eccl 3:1-8 (NIV)
And I hope in the days ahead–a time to blog!
Worship attendance on Easter can quickly go to the head of the pastor. As the pews fill up your eyes get bigger and your fame grows “in your own mind.” Bragging about Easter attendance is foolish at best. Easter is one of those days when everyone shows up at the same time as an annual ritual. For years I have been searching for the calendar where the members of my church sign up for every other week attendance, or once a month. Let’s face it we don’t plan on all of people showing up on the same Sunday just look at our buildings and schedules. If all the members of our church showed every week, we would either need to build an auditorium twice as large, or schedule at least two or three more services.
To be frank, I must admit it feels good the week after Easter. This would be a good week to resign and end my career on a high note!!
Sadly the Western church is in decline on many fronts. What once was the engine of the Christian movement has become its anchor. What happened?
This week I was reading an interesting book by Jim Collins entitled How The Mighty Fall. In the book, Collins studies the dark mystery of how great companies crumble under the weight of their own greatness. He identified five stages of decline. It was the first stage that immediately caught my attention–State 1: The Hubris Born of Success. When success goes to your head watch out!!
Collins writes “Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created the success in the first place.”
The scary thing about this quote is how quickly I can find myself going there. As the writer of Proverbs notes so aptly:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)
My fear is our pride was our down fall. When we as Southern Baptists and Texas Baptists believed we could do no wrong and we were God’s only hope for America, pride got the best of us and began our downfall—my only hope is that it will bring us to our knees!
A little less than two years ago, Dr. Randel Everett, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas challenged the Texas Baptists to share the gospel with every man, woman and child in Texas while striving to make sure every hungry person in Texas would know where their next meal would come from by Resurrection Sunday 2010. These goals appeared to many to be impossible goals–possibly even insane. Yet, Texas H0pe 2010 became the rally cry across the state for many of us.
This big hairy bodacious goal challenged me and my church to do things that were off the radar for us. Since Randel called us to action, we have prayer walked every street in our city more than once. We have sent prayer teams to knock on the door of practically every house in Canyon. We are delivering the Texas Hope 2010 CD’s as a means of planting seeds of the gospel. This Saturday we will send out teams to make a final push toward reaching our goal. Vision does make a difference.
Texas Hope 2010 has changed the conversation among Baptists across the state. Don’t get me wrong we still have issues that divide us, and we are an extreme diverse people, but our hearts beat as one when it comes to sharing Jesus and meeting human need. Who can argue that our heart beat ought to be evangelism and compassion, it seems to me that these priorities were the same priorities Jesus instilled into His devoted followers.
So in the next four days will we accomplish our Texas Hope 2010 goal? Probably not, but I can assure you that we are better off for attempting the impossible, and doing all that we have done. It is my prayer that Texas Hope 2010 will only be the beginning of a new day in Texas Baptist life. A day colored with a creative passion to do whatever it takes to reach our state and to touch the world.
Thank you Randel for your leadership. Your vision from above has inspired us to a better people for the glory of God.