You know, the type of person that takes a successful individual, whether an artist or a pastor, and rips them apart as if they are intimately familiar with their life, outside of the public arena.
I’d say that I can’t stand those sorts of people, and even begin to criticize them as well, but I’ve come to realize that I’m that guy.
Throughout my 34-years of existence, I’ve become more self-aware of the fact that I have often criticized others, without having really known the person I am criticizing.
The successful rap artist, who is clearly a sellout.
The successful pastor with the mega-church in the suburbs, who, according to the omnipotent knowledge of Troy (pun intended), couldn’t give a rip about the marginalized of the city.
If I were the pastor, I’d lead better. If I were dropping albums like those guys, I’d remain true to Christ, and not sellout for the fortune and fame, like some people.
But the problem is, I’m not a pastor with a church. Nor am I an artist with worldwide influence.
I’m not those guys.
Besides, I have to ask myself: Self, how are you being faithful now with what God has given you to steward?
Andy Mineo, the rising star of Reach Records, rightfully exclaims: “our critics are just artists that never made it.”
But if we dig a little deeper into what the root of the issue is—aside from pride and the fact that they’ve made it, and you haven’t—what might we find?
Could it be that we are so insecure with our own identity that we thrive only on the flaws of others? As if pointing out their faults and frailties somehow minimizes our own and, in turn, makes us feel better about who we are or aren’t.
If only we had a true sense of what it means to be created in the image of God, we might find ourselves being secure in whom God has made us to be, while appreciating who others are also.
If we can learn anything from the Apostle Paul, in respect to identity, we learn that he was not a man who found his security in his religious stature, his Jewish heritage, his righteous deeds, or the successes of his missionary journeys.
Paul found his security and worth in Christ Jesus as Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
Even when it had been reported to Paul that some were preaching Christ “from envy and rivalry,” he didn’t criticize them, or attempt to demean the work that they were doing. No, in fact, Paul says that, regardless, “Christ is proclaimed, and in that [he rejoiced].” (Philippians 1:18)
When you find yourself in Christ, you become not only secure in who you are, but also more appreciative of what Christ is doing in and through others also. When you are in Christ, you can rejoice, like Paul, in the successes of others, without becoming their greatest critic.
Yes we are all sinners, broken people in need of a glorious Savior. We need Jesus. But, it is because of Jesus, and only because of Him, that we can boast in anything good that may come out of this life that God has given us. And anything bad in us, or coming out of us, well, that just further illustrates our need for Jesus!
So, instead of criticizing your leaders, maybe examine your own heart and pray that God show you what’s behind the curtain of your critical spirit.
Instead of criticizing the faithful and the fruitful of their shortcomings, maybe you could pray for them instead. I think that’s somewhere in the Bible—the holy, inspired, authoritative, and sufficient word of God—we profess to believe.
That is, assuming you believe.