I got a lot of quiet response to my original piece entitled “To the man who came up to me after church today”. Most people said they would not have reacted the same way I did. Some people thought I was crazy. One person agreed that engagement was a good thing. I had no idea how many people would have an opinion on it! The truth is, I wasn’t offended by his statement because it wasn’t about me. It was about him, his journey and his response to the worship experience. When people are speaking and it’s about their journey it doesn’t bother me. When people are speaking and it’s about me, well that’s another story.
This week when I was out and about I got some ‘helpful’ criticism about my ministry style. My response to the unsolicited critique was not ideal. I froze in place. Feeling judged and shamed about one’s personal style is not the best feeling. As there is no polite way to respond to unsolicited critique I found myself saying nothing and that has left me feeling unsatisfied.
I feel like I should’ve said more but really what can be said that would be helpful in situations like this? Nothing really, nothing at all. I know I need to grow a thicker skin and recognize it comes with the job. Not everyone is going to like me all of the time and some people won’t like me any of the time! It’s just life. We’re all called into ministry because God has a plan for us, a purpose for us here and that is what I am trying to focus on. While there is definitely room for major improvement within me personally and professionally I leave the fixing with the one who created me. I call upon him to work his way into my life and lead me on a journey that will take me, make me, shape me and send me into the world as he sees fit.
The truth is we all have likes and dislikes. In any given church with 100 people on a Sunday you’ll find 101 ways to worship and 101 desired outcomes. The real test to our commitment and dedication to Christ is the ability to let go of our desires, of our neighbour’s desires and really sit and listen to what it is that God wants. I think sometimes we forget that worship isn’t about us. The worship experience isn’t a selfish hour where we get to go and be inspired but instead is actually a moment of communion with God and with his people. The worship experience should be a time of celebration, of discomfort, of connectivity and reflection. Sometimes in the experience we’re not always going to like things. Sometimes on the journey we may find ourselves desiring something different.
It really isn’t about one person though, is it? Criticism does have it’s time and place to help us learn and grow. In the end, above it all it really is about God and God’s contentment with what we are doing in our lives. Instead of fixating on the negatives I will take what I can learn from the experience and fix my eyes instead on the one who came to save asking him to help shape me into the person he wants me to be.