Archive for the ‘criticism’ Category

Open Letter to Self

Posted: August 23, 2011 in change, criticism, Failure, Humility

This last weekend I shared a message regarding God’s call for us to love difficult people. I ended the message by sharing a letter that was written to me. Only after I had finished reading the letter did most realize that I myself had written it.  I shared with our church that I’m the most difficult person I know. As you read my letter below, think about what would you write if you were going to be gut level honest with yourself about areas Christ wants to grow you.

Dear Nathan,

No one ever likes to sit down and write a letter like this, but I thought I would be doing a bigger disservice to you by not being honest and just acting like everything was fine. So here goes:

You are one of the most difficult people I know…..and I know a lot of people. On a regular basis you seem to push your opinion onto others and can come off somewhat arrogant. This makes you come across as manipulative and as trying to push your own agenda onto others. It’s incredibly frustrating when I see you leverage your people skills to get things done.

Your insecurities seem to shine brightest when you are critical of others and how they go about doing things. You always seem to think you are all knowing and know exactly what should be done. Did you ever realize that God has gifted others in the church besides you? What’s worse is that you mask your critical comments by saying, “you only want to further the work of the church”, when really you only mask your own insecurities.

You can really be a needy leech at times. You can be borderline narcissistic in your need for approval from others. Fishing for compliments is not my idea of walking in humility. Your constant need to please other people not for their sake but your own is really contrary to the “Man of God” that you desire to be.

So before you go running off to complain about someone else’s difficult behavior and before you begin to change other people, take a good long uncomfortable look inside yourself. Confess to the Lord your sin, Ask him to forgive you, and make better choices in how you treat people. I say all this in such a brutally honest fashion because I know that you know yourself better than anyone…….other than Christ. Christ knows you for who you are and who you long to be. With God’s Love, grace and mercy I believe you’ll get there.

Yours Truly,

Nathan

Last week while upstairs ironing a shirt I heard a pop downstairs followed by yelling and crying. My oldest son had hit my youngest son in the face out of anger. I sent him to my room to wait for me. He knew what was coming. I took my time. (I never spank my kids while angry.) Once in the room I shared with him my deep love for him and why he was being spanked. My 7yr old understood clearly that I loved him and because I loved him I needed to correct his behavior.

No one likes to be corrected. I know I don’t. Even if I know I’m wrong I can feel my pride invading every fiber of my being when someone points out a  mistake (even a small one) to correct me. Why is that my 7yr old can understand the idea of sowing and reaping, poor judgement and correction, but as adults we many times don’t have the ability to receive correction well?

Obviously, pride is the main issue and hardly needs explanation. A secondary issue that I believe is not addressed is motivation. Many of us cannot receive correction from others because we don’t honestly believe that the person bringing the correction truly loves us. Our insecurity shines through as we tell ourselves, “They’re just on a power trip”, “Who do they think they are?”, “They don’t have the right to….”, “Why don’t you come talk to me when you’re perfect!”

But what if they really love you? What if they truly want God’s best for you? What if God is speaking through them?

Hebrews 12:5–7  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?   (ESV)

Proverbs 12:1  Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,but he who hates reproof is stupid.   (ESV)

Experiencing dysfunctional correction by others in the past doesn’t make correction in the present bad. God many times uses people in our lives to bring loving correction to us: spouses, friends, pastors, co-workers and even strangers.

It’s such a beautiful thing to witness someone receive correction with humility and truly own it. God help me stay in that place.

What about you? How has God brought correction to you through others? Would you mind sharing below?

This week I met with a brother in Christ who was walking through a difficult time. As we talked I began to hear some similar issues and failed methods that I had walked through in my own life. Like me in my past, my friend had hooked his life up to what I call The Crazy Train. The Crazy Train is when we hook our personal value to the acceptance or rejection of other people and/or our success or failure. It goes something like this.

The train goes up the hill when: someone praises you, accepts you, friends you, recognizes your hard work, invites you, when the opposite sex desires you or needs you, when you win or succeed.

The train goes down hill when: people stop praising you, don’t friend you, stop inviting you, stop giving you recognition, don’t call you, when the opposite sex doesn’t desire you, when it seems no one needs you, when someone’s upset with you, when you fail or lose.

You can understand why people hook up to this train. The highs are surreal. It feels great, as if you could do no wrong. However, the downside to the crazy train is a steep one. If you’re hooked up to this train the valley is horrifically painful when your pipeline of acceptance and love from people or success is cut off.

So what’s the remedy? You can’t get off the track of life. Your life is going to be hooked to someone or something regardless.

Remedy= Hook your life up to Jesus Christ. Your definition in Him isn’t based on your performance or people’s high or low view of you. You don’t have to go any farther than Jesus Christ to find an ocean of love and acceptance waiting for you.

So take it from a guy that was hooked to the Crazy Train for a long time. Pull the pin on the dysfunctional locomotive that’s pulling you up and down and hook your life up to Jesus who is faithful, steady and reliable.

All aboard,

Nathan

>Every now and then I get a blunt reminder that not everyone is part of the Nathan Rouse fan club of life. For someone like me who has in the past looked for validation externally, it can be hard to hear, read, and see that not everyone likes me. I sometimes really wish I was that person that could care less what so and so thinks and just keep moving forward, but for me it’s not that easy. It’s even harder if you’re putting yourself out there in the area of leading, teaching, writing, etc. Whether it’s people that just misunderstand you, whole heartily disagree with your positions or just don’t like you, I believe there are some principles that can help us when receiving criticism.

Don’t get defensive: Set your pride and ego aside and genuinely hear what the person has to say. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Don’t always feel you have to respond right then. I sometimes take notes (if I can) so I slow myself down and process what they’ve said later.

Ask yourself “Is there ANY truth to what’s been shared?”: I believe we can learn from anyone, even if the criticism is not shared in the most mature or kindest fashion.

DO make adjustments if needed: If out of the criticism you see something valuable that needs to be adjusted in yourself or leadership…DO IT! Don’t allow your ego to keep you from learning and growing.

Move Forward: Many people when running into criticism allow it to paralyze their lives, plans and leadership. If you feel what you’re doing is biblical and you’ve prayed, sought wise counsel, and feel this is the best course then stand firm and move forward. Don’t water down your message or plans out of fear of upsetting others when you know it’s the best course of action.

Value the Relationship: Our immediate reaction to someone being critical is to want to withdrawal from that person by either avoiding them or just not talking as much to them. While we cannot control their actions we can control ours. Make it a point to continue to reach out to them even if they might not receive it. The apostle Paul said for us to “live in peace with one another.” We should make every effort to do so!

Go Grow,

Nathan