As I write this mistake, I see how this is more of a daily mistake instead of a once-in-a-while, ministerial mistake. Missionary Mistake #10 concerns Criticism.
As with the rest of the mistakes, this is something that is very hard for me. Whether it comes from church people, friends, other missionaries, or even people who have left our ministry … it all still hurts. The fact is that we will all be criticized in different areas of our lives. Therefore the question lies more in how should I react when I’m criticized instead of if I am criticized.
I have preached on the subject of what to do when criticized, but it always still hurts when I personally receive the criticism. Why would someone criticize me? What are they trying to prove? Do they not realize how hard it hurts? These are a few of the questions that run through my mind when I am receiving criticism. But as a missionary, I must realize a few general facts.
First: I must remind myself that the Lord is the judge. I am not the judge nor the avenger, that is God’s job.
Second: Learn from the criticism. Whether church people, family, friends or those I think are wanting to hurt me, they probably have some truth in what they are saying. Maybe I do need to be more cautious, maybe I do need to think things through, maybe …. the bottom line is that if I can be mature enough to accept the criticism, I could probably grow spiritually and ministerially.
Third: Realize that if the ministry and my personal life are going to go forward, I must die to self. This is without a doubt the hardest for me. I have tried to defend myself more than once, only proving how unwise I really am. The Bible puts it this way in John 12:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” That hurts! An obvious fact of life is that multiplication is better than addition – and if I am to multiply in the ministry, than I must learn to die to self.
So the next time I receive criticism that I think is deserved or undeserved, …. how will I react? How will you accept it? Will we quickly stand and defend ourselves or choose to die to self?
If I want to bring “forth much fruit”, I must die to self. Criticism then becomes a simple tool in the Lord’s hand to mold me, test me, or teach me. May I pass the test!