now read this

24Feb08

tony morgan has a great post (i find myself saying this a lot).

A friend of mine mentioned recently that he’s frustrated when he goes into new church environments because, rather than just experiencing the worship and teaching, he always finds himself critiquing the teacher, the music, the facility and everything else. Do you know that feeling?

I do. I used to feel guilty about that. I thought it was sin. I avoided voicing my opinion. I found myself constantly trying to fight my instinct.

Then, a number of years ago, I heard Andy Stanley talk on this very topic. I think I may have heard it at one of the early Catalyst Conferences when the event was still held on the North Point campus. Here are some of the thoughts Andy shared:

  • “Change is preceded by challenge, and challenging the status quo is where leadership begins.”
  • “As a leader, there is something in you that leans toward evaluating and critiquing everything you bump into organizationally.”
  • “Deep in your heart you feel that if you were in charge, things would not only be different, they would be better.”
  • “When you stop challenging, you have stopped leading and begun managing.” And that’s a problem!

In other words, that tendency to evaluate and critique environments and experiences is part of what distinguishes you as a leader. When God is in control of your life, he can use that gift powerfully to further his Kingdom.

I couldn’t find the original message online. Here are a couple of articles, though, that summarize Andy’s thoughts on this topic:

Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you found yourself trying to fight this instinct to evaluate and critique?

(Is there anyone out there that can point us to where this message is available online?)

you can find the original post here.

(can anyone find the andy stanley material he’s referring to?)

tony’s always got some insight into something that i’m thinking about and usually has some experience to relate back to.

while i think there’s limitations to this, i think this will relieve a lot of critiques out there. it will, however, give cynics a breeding ground. and yet, to others (like myself), it will leave us thinking, “ok… where exactly is that line between critique and critic and how do i avoid the cynical side of judgement?”

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2 Responses to “now read this”

  1. I think it’s a fine line. It’s one that I don’t think I balance well but I really try. I want to improve our process but I don’t want to miss what God is trying to say to me in the middle of it all. Just found your blog and love it. Keep up the great work.

  2. I don’t think there’s any formula to figure out where the line is but I think checking my attitude is a pretty good indicator to if I’ve crossed the line or not. Do I want the best for the person I’m critiquing or am I simply enjoying critiquing them? Am I just on the lookout for things to pick apart or could I offer ideas that will help things get better?

    Those are just a few questions that help me gauge. The other thing that I think is key is how I express my critique. Was my tone gentle and loving or blunt and abrasive? I’ve found that the times I think I need to be blunt and abrasive, there is typically something else going on that is the real cause of my irritation.

    But the other side of the coin that I see quite a bit (and am also guilty of) is soft-pedaling or not being really honest when asked for my opinion and then calling it “being loving” or “graceful.” Especially when I’m asked for my feedback, if I’m not honest then I’m not really loving either. When the writer of Ephesians writes of “speaking the truth in love,” I think it’s because you can’t really do one without the other.


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