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Everyone Needs Critics

Some of my readers have too much time on their hands. While I do appreciate some of you sending me interesting materials for my blog, such as funny videos, interesting articles, other blogs to check out, and topics you’d like for me to address, I also get a few readers that send me stuff … about me.

Seriously. I know that I have stuff I need to work out in my life, and I’m constantly trying to live in the tension of “I must decrease and He must increase,” but I am no megalomania. I don’t need folks to send me stuff about what others are saying about me, my ministry, blog, sermons, articles, blah…

But when someone sent me the stuff below regarding my comment in the NY Times about mixed martial arts, I just had to chuckle:

“…Before I move on to my alternate proposal for preaching Jesus, I do want to take a moment to comment on what the so-called evangelical critics of UFC Jesus said in response to this article. One critical comment that really grabbed my attention, not because of its insightfulness but rather on account of its irony, was made by some pastor named Eugene Cho of “Quest Church” in Seattle, who said, “What you attract people to Christ with is also what you need to get people to stay.”

Basically, all you need to know about Cho, and whether he is in a position to make a comment like that because he stands above the fray of all these evangelicals who hock Jesus with cool, is look at the name of his church, “Quest.” How much more transparent do you have to be than that, that you are using hip to reach people (the name sounds like it was taken off the name of a book in the “spirituality” section at Borders). At any rate, I click on Quest Church’s Web site, and what do you see there but a cross draped with linens, a casually dressed band up front toting all the usual equipment, guitars, drums, etc., and interior walls painted the exact same colors you would find at your local Starbucks (hmmm, I wonder what kind of Jesus Cho is selling to people in Seattle?). Then I click on Cho’s Twitter page and find out that the most recent set of sermons is on what? You guessed it, relationships. Yeah, no one else is doing that! That is really different, and totally above the fray. I guess even in this case of an evangelical critic of UFC Jesus, we have an example of the pot calling the kettle black.”

This stuff I can laugh at and laugh at myself, but it does beg the more honest and prickly question about feedback, criticisms, or personal attacks.

How do you handle it? What principles guide you?

For me, I try to practice these principles:

1. They’re important. Everyone needs feedback and critics. They humble us, sharpen us, and occasionally, rebuke us…and sometimes, give us a good laugh.

2. Perspective. Whatever you do, you will have both supporters and critics. But whatever you do, do it with all your heart as working for the Lord…and not for the pleasing of men and women. (Col. 3:23)

3. Don’t give your ears to everyone. Be careful who you listen to. Let go of the inclination and temptation to please everyone. When it’s from folks that I know (especially from my church community), I listen…even if I don’t want to.

Not listening to anyone is as dangerous (if not more so) as listening to everyone.

4. Protect the soul. When they are clearly personal attacks, don’t listen. Stop listening. Turn off the Internet. Our souls are too valuable if they are attacks intended to be malicious. Yes, I’ve developed thick skin over the years, but I can still be impacted by the “attacks.”

5. Actually listen. Be careful who you listen to, but when you do listen, actually consider what people are saying because they may help speak to the “blind spots” in our lives. Bonus: Everyone has “blind spots,” but we can’t see them. (Get it?)

6. Be mature. In both listening and responding. I stumble and bumble along in my pursuit of following Christ, but I nevertheless follow him. Therefore, be…Christlike.  

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eugenecho@churchleaders.com'
Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day's Wages — "a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty." He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.