Responding to Criticism

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”                                    – Galatians 1.10

Sometimes you’re going to make people angry, not because you do something wrong but because you do something right. People generally do not like change, even if the change is for the good. Ruffle feathers, touch a sore spot, topple a sacred cow, disrupt the status quo, and people will respond negatively.

In those moments, how will you respond? In the past, I’ve responded well and poorly, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The way people respond to a decision does not make that decision more or less correct.
  • Listen to your critics. They will usually teach you more than your fans.
  • You do not have a moral obligation to respond to every criticism. Sometimes the best response is no response at all.
  • Avoid the temptation to fire off an angry email response to a criticism. Email is permanent. Assume your response will be read by everyone, so have a trusted friend or colleague preview written responses before you send them.
  • Don’t obsess over what others think. You don’t need their approval. They cannot make you feel bad about yourself without your permission.
  • Ultimately, there’s one opinion that matters above all, and God regards you highly, even when you screw up.

God’s Will Part 2 – open doors

How do you read your circumstances? Do you try to interpret opportunities as indicators of God’s will? Here are a few additional thoughts on the will of God and so-called “open doors”:

  1. Not every opportunity, (a.k.a. an open door) is God’s will.
  2. The more education and wealth you have, the more open doors you will have.
  3. Sometimes crashing through a closed door is God’s will for you.
  4. Finding God’s will for your career is a challenge created by wealth and privilege.
  5. Finding God’s will for your spouse is a challenge created by modern dating practices.
  6. Most of the time, the Bible addresses the will of God in terms of developing godliness.
  7. The details of your life (college, career, spouse) are less important to God than godliness.
  8. Become godly and the details of your life will take care of themselves.
  9. Godliness is a matter of obedience more than knowledge.
  10. The most difficult thing about God’s will, therefore, is doing it.  Knowing it is the easy part.
God's Will

The Will of God

I’m beginning a book on God’s will.  Here are a few ideas I am thinking about today, and maybe they will be helpful to all those students who are taking the next step in their life journey.

  1. God’s will is not a mystery.
  2. We do not have to beg and plead with God to “reveal his will for our lives.”
  3. God is not withholding his will, waiting for us to pray fervently enough.
  4. We typically want God’s will more than we want a relationship with God.
  5. What people call the “individual will of God” may be non-existent.
  6. We ask God to reveal his will to avoid the pain of difficult decisions.
  7. We ask God to reveal his will instead of planning our lives.
  8. We seek a sign from God because that is easier than making a decision.
  9. We sometimes make decisions based on hunches or impressions that we attribute to God.
  10. Seeking a sign from God is the contemporary equivalent of ancient divination practices.
  11. We substitute divination for developing wisdom.
  12. We substitute divination for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
  13. We fail to take into account spiritual gifts as clues to our life’s purpose.
  14. We fail to take into account our own desires as clues to our life’s purpose.
  15. In all these ways, we’ve allowed contemporary Christian culture to trump sound biblical thinking on an important subject.
God's Will