Coaches for Lumberjacks
There’s nothing like starting the day off right leading worship at 8:30 in the morning for 200 students at a Christian high school. That sounds sarcastic, but truthfully, it was an awesome day. The students at Gaston Christian are awesome. They sang out loud and proud like it was 1989 (Wes, again, thanks for the invite). The students and staff both were very welcoming to us newcomers, even those that look like they came straight from the lumberyard.
(By the way, Tasha says the beard has to go soon. Oh well, at least it was a cheap route toward the heating efficiency of my body for these winter months. But I don’t think it did a whole lot for our electric bill.)
Later, I met a guy for lunch that I’m just starting to build a relationship with here in town – an awesome guy with a great heart and a huge vision to reach the city of Charlotte with the gospel. I’m realizing more and more how important it is to keep older, godly people in your life to challenge you, to sharpen you, to correct you, to expand and broaden the vision that God has birthed within you, and simply to be a friend.
Here’s something that God convicted me of this week and then our lunch prompted me to write about.
God help me if I ever shun the voices of reason and direction in my life. God help me if I ever reach the point that I feel I don’t need accountability – that I don’t need sounding walls – that I don’t need the guidance of older, more mature believers to help me up when I fall, to encourage me when I’m down or when I succeed, and to challenge me when I get lazy. This may be a shocker, but God help me when I shun even the voices of my critics.
I heard a statement this week from a pastor quoting Billy Graham that challenged me. He said that one of the statements that Billy has made over the years that has stuck with him is, “Let your critics become your coaches.”
There’s real wisdom there. Granted, much of the criticism we face should simply be moved to the deleted items folder and forgotten about. But Billy is right. We need to allow the criticism of others to become coaching mechanisms in our lives to sharpen where we are dull, stengthen where we are weak, and to be the eyes that we often think are in perfect focus but in reality are dimmed and blurred.
No doubt the Corinthian church felt attacked and belittled by Paul in his letters to them chastising them for how they had gotten everything wrong. But because they were eventually open to his criticism and rebuke, God used it in their midst to prove Himself powerful among them (2 Corinthians 13:1-4). Of course, looking at their situation with 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to say, “Well, Paul spoke from God. So, they would have been complete and absolute morons not to take his rebuke and criticism to heart. It was as if God was speaking to them.” True. But his audience wasn’t sure of that. In fact, Paul felt like he had to continually prove to them that his criticism was godly criticism spoken as God’s mouthpiece (2 Cor. 13:3).
Point being: To a certain degree, we’ve got to hear out our critics. Maybe God has sent them to be His mouthpiece in our lives. Maybe not. But we should at least give the criticism an opportunity to be a coaching tool in our lives. And that’s not easy for me. I’m attempting to learn the art.
A godly friend and professor of mine used to say, “Eat the chicken. Spit out the bones.” That’s key.
And for the record, this is not a commentary on my lunch buddy, because he was nothing but encouraging. It is simply thoughts that have been on my mind as of late and I figured now was a good time to rant.