Thursday, March 8, 2012
When I made the decision to go to the seminary, one of my closest relatives said, "You know what most people have for dinner on Sunday don't you?... Roast Pastor!" On my vicarage my supervising pastor was adamant that I develop what he called "alligator hide." The barbs, the innuendos, the vague criticisms, and my all time favorite... the anonymous letters... are just some of the ways people like to smack the pastor.
Everyone gets to feel the scourge of condemnation from time to time. There are just a lot of people out there who love to let you know how bad you are! They do so in the corners and the shadows of life. Double that if you try to do anything in ministry... teach Sunday School, play the organ, lead the ladies' or men's group, etc.
I actually thank God for those who condemn me. The more they condemn, the more I cling to Christ and to His gift of righteousness. As I do that, I also become better at showing forth the righteousness of Christ in my life.
I don't assume that every condemnation is unjust. Condemnations are always a call for self-examination, for repentance, forgiveness and renewal. I find that as I struggle through that process I am also able to sift out the legitimate criticisms from the illegitimate. Another important clue to legitimate criticism is that it usually comes face to face and heart to heart. Those who sideswipe us, usually doing so with illegitimate criticism.
Unjust condemnation is still painful for me. But in that case I also turn to Christ for His assurance: "There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8.1).