Criticism can be a painful pill to swallow. I’ve lost sleep over bad reviews. One person called into question the proper use of an English courtesy title used with one of my characters. There’s a good chance that I got it wrong, even though I’ve done extensive research to stay as historically accurate as possible. When to use which English title is confusing. However, the discrepancy caused the person to stop reading halfway through the story. Her inability to see past the minor errors caused her to miss the book’s message of forgiveness, fortitude, and faith, which saddens me more than the bad review.
I know I can’t please everyone. I’m human and make countless mistakes daily. (Some are funny. I tend to type shutter instead of shudder, which I know has something to do with my husband being in the home improvement industry. Or there was a time that I wrote neckless instead of necklace. The poor heroine had no neck—how terrible.) I will re-read a blog after it’s released and kick myself over errors that I know better than to make. There may even be some in this blog, but my hope is that my mistakes don’t overshadow the message.
I’ve seen this happen in churches. Pastors, too, are human. They aren’t infallible, but many of us have unrealistic expectations for them. We are quick to criticize if they do something with which we disagree. We move on to greener pastures only to discover that our new pastor is human also. The church in Pennsylvania, where I gave my life to Christ, divided over trivial things because they lost sight of the grander purpose. When we major in the minors, as my pastor calls it, we make the devil’s job easy. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Focusing on mistakes instead of the message steals purpose, kills trust, and destroys unity.
2 Corinthians 8:7 states, “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”
Luke 6:36 says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
God asks us to excel in grace and mercy. This means giving the benefit of the doubt, forgiving mistakes, and repenting of a critical spirit. I realize this isn’t easy, but it can start with turning off the film in our head that plays different retaliation scenarios and stopping our fingers from sending a snarky retort. Take a second and ask ourselves if this helps or hurts God’s greater purpose. Bitterness, judgment, and a critical spirit can blind us to the great works God is doing, block us from receiving a message we need to hear, and do damage to our witness.
Are you bogged down in the trivial? What’s keeping you from God’s greater message? Let’s not make the devil’s job easy. Ask God to show you what you need to move past and how to move beyond it so that you can get to the happily-ever-after.
I’ll be on my knees doing the same.
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