Encouragement for the Criticized

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For those who do what I do, you understand the pressures that come with being a pastor  or a leadership position that requires you to lead a lot of people. Like any position of leadership, there are always critics and the critics are rarely critical because they want to help. We all know that the negative kind of critic can cause us to hurt, second guess our decisions and even, at times, second guess our calling. So, this short post is intended to be an encouragement to anyone who is discouraged in what they’re called to do. (I’m not grinding any axes here.)

One truth I always try to remind myself is that I am really working, serving, preaching and leading before an audience of one. That is, when this ministry and life are all said and done, I will stand in judgment before the One who has the right to call me out on everything I’ve done; and He will. So, my purpose and goal, ultimately, is to please Him.

That’s a pretty good goal isn’t it; to please Him?

But, we all have those days when we’re down because someone has complained publicly about us or lied about us or expressed (again publicly) their dissatisfaction with us. I was very encouraged the other day when I read these words from Theodore Roosevelt in regard to the critic and to our calling. I hope you’ll find them as inspiring as I have.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

To my brothers and sisters who are battling in ministry and leadership and even struggling through criticism; keep on! What you’re doing is eternal in value which means it’s eternal in weight. But, the majority of the load of that yoke is carried by our Savior. Remember, most critics are doing nothing. That’s why they have time to criticize.

To my critics, I ask you to remember that I’m as human as you are. What I’m doing is by divine call and I have a Master whom I desperately want to please. If you join me in that pursuit, you may find less reasons to criticize.

Jamaica 2013 Video

Here’s the video I made for our trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Thank you to Cletis and Tammy Titus for inviting us and thank you to our church, Vienna Baptist Church, for sending us.

Jamaica – Day 7 and 8

We’ve had a wonderful weekend in Mo-Bay. Yesterday we went into Bogue village with Pastor Andrew to tell people about Bay-Life Baptist. It was nice to spend time with him and we had several good contacts as well. One of them was a man who had a friend who is trying to sell a piece of land in Bogue. Who knows, maybe that contact will work out well for the church. They are praying about buying land and building a building.

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Today was another great day at Bay-Life. I enjoyed so much preaching this morning. We also met some new friends to add to those we’ve already met. There’s a team here from Michigan to help on the CCCD campus this week. Tonight was AWANA at Bay-Life and I was asked to speak to the kids. The best part was at the end of the evening when I had got to lead a little Jamaican boy named Jared to Christ. That was worth the entire trip!

Here’s a pic of the AWANA kids at game time:

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There’s all kinds of things I could tell you about this weekend; visitation, worship and lunch at Dr. Brown’s house again. I can also tell you that what is happening to our hearts in Jamaica. We’ve met so many that I’ve already told you about: Andre and Michael, the Daniel family, the Otto family, chef, Mr. Shim and Beverly, Dr. Brown and many others whose names I can’t remember. Tammy told us that once we came here, Jamaica will always have a part of our hearts, Laura and I are finding out how true that is.

I’ve mentioned Pastor Andrew and Tanesha. Here’s a picture of them with us:

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Please pray for Andrew and Tanesha. There are doing such a great job here with Bay-Life Baptist church. The church is growing which means they are under the same spiritual attack as the rest of us who labor for the Gospel. Laura and I are committed to pray for them, will you join us?

Tomorrow is our last full day here in Jamaica. The trip has gone by so fast and we’re going to be sad to go. But, we have a beautiful 15 year old daughter at home we miss terribly (I think she may miss us a little) and we are ready to see her.

Jamaica – Day 6

Laura and I woke up with the sun this morning which was fine since the day was to begin fairly early anyway. After a bacon and egg breakfast prepared by Cletis, we headed to “First Step School” where I was asked to do a devotional with the kids. I knew I was to speak at a school, but I found out this morning it was preschool age. Yikes! Not exactly my normal age of audience.

Never the less, the kids were so cute! You should have hear them sing! My favorite song went something like, “Not knowing Jesus is like a donut, you’ll have a hole in your heart.”

Like I said, they were adorable:

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I guess I should mention too, the drive into downtown Mo-Bay on Friday morning was very busy; people everywhere!

After the school we took about a 70 kilometer drive to Negril. This is a major tourist area on the Island. As a matter of fact, many of the people who come to Jamaica for vacation, land in Motego Bay and then travel by bus to Negril. This made the road from Mo-Bay to Negril the nicest road we’ve traveled on.

We went to a place where people cliff dived first. Don’t worry, didn’t even think about it. But, the scenery was spectacular:

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After that we went to a market place where Jamaicans have their businesses selling items to tourists. Here we met a woman who ran one of the places and haggled over the prices of some keepsakes. It felt a little like we were a part of American pickers for a minute. I even said, “meet me halfway and give it to me for $7.50.” (If you’ve ever seen the show you know one of their favorite lines is, “meet me halfway.”)

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After buying a few things we headed to Margaritaville for lunch and a couple hours on the beach. Needless to say, it was very relaxing. The day ended with a trip back by the Bible college to collect the final exams from the class and back down the mountain home.

Great day!

Tomorrow we’ll be going into Bogue village with Pastor Andrew from Bay Life Baptist to tell people in the neighborhood about the church. I’m really looking forward to that!

I’ll finish off this post by asking you to pray. If you’ve been following, I’ve introduced several families and villages that need our prayer. Would you consider pausing for just a few moments right now to pray for Jamaica, the Titus’, the Daniel family, The Otto family, for Bogue village and for Bay Life Baptist church?