I give it one thumb up and one thumb down …
Critics are everywhere. Have you ever noticed that no matter what you do some people are ready to sit back in their chair and give you a free evaluation of everything that is weak or could use improvement? It’s like the movie reviewers on television. One guy likes the cinematography but the other guy doesn’t like the costumes.
Critics sit there munching on their yellow, buttery popcorn giving their rationale of why things suck so bad. You put your efforts into your story, your event, your plans and they shred it like it’s their calling.
I wish continual critics who believe they have a gift of critiquing would announce their intentions before they get hold of my ear. Sometimes I get sucked in pretty deep before I realize, “Woah, wait. This endless barrage is coming from a barrager.” (If that’s not a word it should be.) They are the machine guns of criticism. Machine guns never really surprise me by the number of bullets they pump out but the barrager gets me off guard pretty often. By the time I recognize their deal, I’m full of holes and bleeding profusely. If I knew their plans and saw them coming I would have taken time to put on a flack jacket.
I remember interacting with Tim at a summer camp. I was speaking and Tim made sure to let me know his every thought of improving the camp. He talked to me about the food, the lights, the band and even the waterfront. He told me what was wrong with the games and told me how he would do things different. He critiqued every service. It wasn’t long before I recognized the pattern. I am pretty sure that after Jesus returns, Tim will fold his arms and say, “Yeah, that was good but here’s what I would have done …”
On day three I spotted Tim making his way across the field headed straight for me. When he reached me and started to speak I stopped him and said, “Tim, before you say anything critical I want to hear you tell me two things that you are pumped about.” He frowned, folded his arms and walked away. He couldn’t do it! It made me sad … and glad that I didn’t have to listen to more complaints.
The rest of the week, each time Tim approached me, I gave him the same request. Each time he walked away silent. In a camp of 300 people where everyone was well fed and safe, where kids where growing in faith, where the worship was sweet and fellowship deep, Tim could find nothing to be excited about. Wow.
What’s your deal? Sometimes I slip into the critic role and find myself grading worship services, speakers and music. I critique lighting, costs and settings. During those times, I normally miss the value of whatever it is I am critiquing. I totally miss it.
When I choose the role of critic rather than encourager, servant, participant, worshipper, I am left only with greasy, slimy, cheap butter-coated fingers that can’t grip anything.
When I choose to allow a barrager to riddle me with bullets time and again, I cannot help but get discouraged from what the Lord has called me to. We can only bleed for so long.
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me – promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics – but what you say is always so good.