Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

How To Critique Biblically

Revelation 2:20

Nevertheless, I have this against you:

IMG_0301As a pastor, on one hand I work for God. On another hand it can be said I work for 400+ people who make up the congregation I serve. One might even say I work for a denomination as well. After nearly 40 years of doing my job and countless years of training and several degrees, I still do not always hit the nail on the head in everything I do. I admit that I make mistakes or miss things from time to time. I have even asked the SPRC committee and even the entire congregation to help me see where I fall short in serving the congregation I serve as pastor. I would like to take the space of this article to share some insights as how best to go about that process. How to best critique your pastor (or anyone).

Critiquing people is an art. The old adage that you can get more flies with honey than vinegar is very true. The way we critique a person or an event is almost as important as what we have to say in our critique – at times – maybe even more important. If the person or group being critiqued will not receive the information because of how it is offered, then it has not done any good, has it?

A great example is found in Revelation as God critiqued the seven churches. Here is an example – with today’s passage in partial context. Revelation 2:18-20 – 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.  19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you:

The critiquer identified His credentials for making such a critique, praised the one being critiqued, and then got into the critique. We do not always follow such a godly method, now do we? Over the years, I have had several persons in the congregations I have served, feel the need to critique me on some aspect of my job. Some have critiqued the way I dress, or the amount of hair on my face, or head, the hours I keep, the behavior of my children, my sermons – content, length, purpose, etc. – and more.

I have asked for critique over the years, always wanting to learn, grow, and reach the people I am called to serve. Yet there is a way to critique that will have a positive impact and a way that will lead the hearer to the delete button quickly (mentally or on the computer). Let me repeat that my staff and I are always open to ideas and helpful hints. What we will not take kindly to are people who can not express themselves without belittling the one they are addressing. I have been critiqued by both positive and negative critiques over the years. I can tell you that the negative approach often makes me more concerned with the messenger. This is never the approach that should be taken. You want the message to stand out, not leave the person hearing your critique to wonder what the messenger’s motive was in sharing. It should be very clear that the message is being shared in love, that the intended purpose is to ask a question or give some insight. And that you, the messenger, are open to a clear explanation of the issue at hand. Maybe, just maybe, the messenger giving the critique was missing something?

At times valid points are made in critiques that never get heard because of the manner in which we offer the critique. After all, your effort is to help the hearer of the critique, not beat them into submission! Right?

Your thoughts?

Just something to think about today as you go on your way!

P.S. – this is a traditional post I put up every once in awhile – not pointed at anything personal!

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February 27, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , ,

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