Part 1: How Jesus Commands Us to Handle Critics

Just recently I was studying the Bible for My One Sentence Bible, and I came across Matthew 10:11-11:7. In this passage Jesus is giving instructions to his disciples on how to live a faithful life with critics, haters and oppressors all around. I was shocked, and moved by Jesus’ commands (no, I don’t know why I still get shocked by being shocked by Jesus…).

Over the next couple weeks or so I will relate to you the lessons I learned from Jesus’ words on living amongst constant critics. I have been praying fervently throughout the nights for the Lord to speak to me regarding how I am to humbly best honor God in my responses, if I should even respond at all. I had a breakthrough with the Lord recently in this manner. Over the last few days I have put together what I feel the Lord is revealing in the form of this blog series detailing Jesus’ commands on how to live with haters/critics/enemies. Starting today, I have a new standard operating procedure on how to live out handling critics, haters, etc after Jesus’ commands. Let the Series begin…

Part 1:

From my ‘famous’ friends who work in the United States government, the United Nations, the Christian world, and the secular marketplace, literally 100% of them tell me the exact same thing when it comes to handing critics (and it’s also the first overarching school of thought when it comes to handling critics):

Ignore them. The more you respond the more you bring attention to them. It’ll die off soon enough and they’ll move on to something else.

Great point! But unfortunately I can’t do that.

I’m not wired that way. I have way too much of a sensitive spirit to force myself to ignore falsities flying around about me (believe me, I’ve tried over and over again and ignoring the stuff eats at me more than if I respond—no matter what the outcome from my response). If I feel wronged, mis-interpreted, lied about, etc, I can’t help myself but to give my understanding. The problem with this is that it usually ends up being a battle of attrition, and it’s not like I have all day to just sit around arguing back and forth with people who I don’t know and probably will never meet.

I have struggled to learn that lesson over the past couple of years, and this past year I implemented a new personal strategy:

If I ever respond, I just do it once and post it on my blog—not theirs, anyone else’s or in any media publication—and then I try to let it go.

Then if people want to engage with me on my blog, I am more than happy to continue responding. But here is the difficult part for me about that strategy:

I have all day for people in my life—person to person. All freaking day.

On the internet however, it’s like I have fake-but-actually-real-but-still-fake-relationships. We can’t speak in person face to face, we can’t enter into an actual and mutual relationship, and thus, it gives a whole lot of people way more guts to say things they would never, ever have the guts to say to my, or anyone else’s face. And for some reason unbeknown to me, I still look at those internet relationships as just as real as my ‘in person’ relationships. Thus, I get just as hurt and take things just as personal as I do if such a thing were to ever happen with my ‘in person’ relationships.

That’s not healthy, and I can’t continue doing that because it’s literally driving me insane. I have noticed small things in my life changing over the last few months, and not for the positive, because these internet relationships, which I have always viewed the same as ‘in person’ relationships, are consuming my thoughts, emotions and draining my entire existence.

The strange juxtaposition I see in this disconnect is that the only other overarching school of thought regarding handling critics, that very few actually take, is:

Respond to everything—because if you’re not telling your story someone else is.

I like this one better, and so does my good friend who works in a huge PR firm who continues to think I should respond. This school of thought jives more with my personality. Why? Because I feel satisfied. And no, that is not one ounce of a good enough reason to like this school of thought better. Over the years I have tried committing to this school of thought, but I found out that it’s not sustainable over the long haul. I just don’t have the spiritual, emotional, mental or physical ability to sustain it over any extended period of time. Then, when I don’t have anything left to give because I’ve spent every ounce of my trying to respond to everything, I start beating myself up and guilting the heck out of myself because I don’t have enough capacity to keep responding. Not. Healthy. As I found out, if I responded to everything written about me I would never sleep—which was a clear reality when I committed to this school of thought.

I lost myself. I lost my way. I was hurt and confused and overwhelmed and totally clueless to what the heck I was supposed to do. Everyone had a different suggestion for me. My head was clouded with a bunch of non-sense. How was I to honor God through it all? How was I to try and forgive these people who the deepest part of my spirit just wanted to hate them, tell them off and move on? How was I to even start engaging them in anything that resemebles peace and productivity? I didn’t know the answers to any of them. And I was scared to find out.

But I turned back to Jesus.

I had to. No one else could give me any answers that made sense.

And through many sleepless night’s crying to God for help, I think I might have learned something profound.

Today I feel like a billion pound gorilla of clouded, haze-filled, scary-uncertainty-of-not-knowing-how-to-“rightly”-handle-such-unique-and-difficult-and-quite-strange-situations-that-I-felt-lots-of-confusing-oppression has been lifted off of me.

Here are Jesus’ 7 Movements to the Illusive Art of Living with Critics (which can be implemented with ‘in person’ relationships and these internet ones as well) based off of Matthew 10:11-11:7:

1. Stay close to those you trust with your life.

2. Never stop teaching the Way. Continue to engage your critics until they no longer value its work.

3. Through the Spirit, endure the ongoing attempts to destroy you, and only then will you be delivered.

4. The key to sustaining yourself in the midst of unceasing oppression is to focus on your relationship with God.

5. Stay committed to sprinting towards what everyone else sprints from, no matter who betrays you along the way.

6. Respond to the inquisitive by inviting them to be with you in person.

7. Keep repeating the process until either you die or Jesus comes back.

Starting tomorrow I will continue this series by beginning to post the breakdown to each of them. All in all, Jesus gave us 25 insights within these 7 movements.

Looking forward to it.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Andrew A

    I’m glad you’re finding better answers to the question of how to handle your critics, Andrew. Keep on relying on Jesus to take care of you, brother. He will.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
    Grace and Peace.

  • Seth

    What Andrew said!

    Lots of truth and insight in your posting today; clearly the HS is at work in you–I can tell (1 Cor 12:8). Glory to God!

    On a more practical note, please take good care of yourself and your wife. It’s scary-easy to let things slip at home when things are difficult in the field . . .

  • Debbie Thurman

    “haters/critics/enemies”

    Hmmm. I wonder at the word critic being sandwiched between haters and enemies. Yes, a critic is a negative kind of person more often than not. But what do we call someone who cares enough about us and God’s ministry of reconciliation to give what might be a prophetic word of rebuke?

    God asks us, through the teaching of the Apostles, to examine our hearts and make sure we are standing, lest we fall. David asked God to search his heart (Psalm 139) and “see if there be any hurtful way in me.” Nathan, the prophet, had cutting words for David after his sin: “You are the man.” But David listened and grew into a man after God’s own heart.

    A pastor, whom I greatly respect, told me years ago we ought to closely, prayerfully examine all words of criticism to see if there is any truth in them. And those who are offering correction also need to take care they are doing it in a loving way. I’m afraid I have not always done that. Nor have I always listened at first to those whom I later could see God was using to rebuke me. I should have.

    I’m glad, Andrew, you have been in prayer and are drawing close to God in this. And I hope you have godly and trusted accountability partners who love you enough to tell you the truth, even if it hurts. I’m glad I do.

    FWIW, Gagnon did not take a loving, fatherly or brotherly tone with you. Folks like that can make us gag on the truth. Wouldn’t it be great if the two of you could meld into one truth-in-love entity? You represent two faces of the Church that need to reconcile.

    • pm

      The likelihood of TMF & Gagnon representing a potential ‘meld’ is slim to none as the “haters/critics/enemies” attacks (part one & two) fails to pass the stink-test; your comment about ‘prophetic’ is unbalanced as doesn’t remind the readers that such revelations became established via trusted relationship like Nathan & David. David, himself a prophet, surrounded himself with holy and righteous believers who were faithful to the kingdom-building ministry of David. Instead, gagnon’s pattern of attacking first, inquiry second provided TMF with unlimited opportunities to fall from the steadfastness that’s essential to faithful witnessing. Intellectualizing ‘ivory-tower’ analysis that’s based on betrayal, mis-direction and manipulation so as to avoid the face-to-face honest-dialogue is a pharisee tactic that’s very much in vogue today. It s-t-a-n-k is the 1st century, and continues to do so in the modern era of selfish arrogance (i.e., “Who do you think you are to present the love of God without ___(fill in the blank)___.”)

      • Debbie Thurman

        Good points, pm. I don’t care for “intellectualizing ‘ivory-tower’ analysis” any more than you do. It’s as if Gagnon believes Andrew to be too “stinky” to touch. I didn’t give enough forethought to my analogy. Academia can be a sterile place. Sometimes the educator is loath to get out in the trenches of life and dirty his hands.

        Andrew knows his book had a profound impact on me. I’ve said it here more than once. I believed when I read it, and I still believe, that God has a purpose for this ministry. It’s a work in progress, as we all are. And we can learn from our critics. This may be a testing time. We are to be “doers of the Word.” We learn most by doing and keeping close to God so He can correct our course by whatever means He chooses.

  • Bruce

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m sure that you could be talking about me and others like me…. though I am really on your side. Remember that your critics will tell you things that your friends never will… and a wise man will check into any truth that may be a conflict with their own understanding.
    In playing with fire, as is the case in this “debate”, it is wisdom to stay close to the Lord Himself, His word, and the broad spectrum of His people who love and obey the truth. We need each other, but we need the truth itself in our midst. Keep searching for it and you will find it.
    Kudos to Debbie…. though I don’t know her, I perceive that she has a true kindness towards you.

    Bruce

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      I’m not trying to make this about ‘sides’ or who has more supporters. With the recent criticisms, I felt like I needed to explore how Jesus handled them, as I can get lost easily in this whole thing.

  • Jack Harris

    Andrew,

    For what its worth, I care deeply about you and know that there are many folks like me that are praying with you on this journey. How does the scripture read? “Therefore we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…” You are certainly not alone Andrew, even amongst your Internet/Facebook “Family.

    Bears Hugs Jack

    • Drew

      Andrew,

      Thank you for your vulnerability, openness and love….to and for your God and to and for people.

      Peace and love, brother.

  • Marie

    Andrew,
    I find you to be a most courageous man. My 17 year old son came out recently and I have been hurt by the church I attend very badly. My son prayed for 5 years for God to change him and still prays to this day. I know that it is not my sons “choice” to be ridiculed and told by so called “christians” that he’s going to hell. There is only One who determines that, and it’s not them! Anyhow, I thought that I could stay in that church and try to “build the bridge” that you are doing, but learned that I didn’t have the strength. I’m a novice when it comes to the Bible at best.
    I appreciate you, Andrew and I know this most take it’s toll on you. Just know, that there are many out here that appreciate what you do and I believe it is God’s work.
    Stay Strong,
    Marie

    • Amy

      I second that! Andrew, you ARE a very courageous man. THANK YOU for doing the difficult work you do EVERY DAY. It really does mean A LOT to A LOT of people.

  • Jean

    Thanks a lotfor that piece of honesty and spirtual realism. Be blessed and rest on Him who takes care of you !
    Jean

  • http://www.xanga.com/Ody_dan Daniel M

    Andrew, could you create some “canned” but still person replies? Then you can just cut and paste the bits that apply for the situation. They attack these 2 areas, you already have your reply for that. Make the standard replies still from your heart, but don’t keep investing so much in each response. Would that work? If you have some you trust enough, you hire them as your PR to speak truth on all the sites/publications that speak lies and accusations again you and your ministry. Just ideas. I hope you find something that works, because it’ll only get worse and consume more time and resources.
    Praying for you.

  • http://gayhomophobe.wordpress.com/ Sans

    Great thoughts and observations, Andrew. I find it relevant even in my own life and circumstances just now. I don’t know if you ever feel this way or not, but sometimes I feel as though there just aren’t any good answers or, better/worse yet that any answer is the “right” answer. Personally, I HATE those times. I need concrete answers!! But, I live in the real world.

    Thanks for what you do.

    PS – I am proclaiming you the King of Hyphenation after this post!!! :)

  • http://www.jennyrain.com Jenny

    You have to be walking the most difficult tightrope of all times… I think of you often… it is never easy to be a forerunner.

    “I lost myself. I lost my way. I was hurt and confused and overwhelmed and totally clueless to what the heck I was supposed to do. ”

    not to be master of the obvious… but isn’t that the enemy’s tactic? to “help” you lose your way so you are tremendously LESS effective? Think Nehemiah and how he “kept on building” because he “didn’t have time” to address the critics and come down from the wall. He had a mission… rebuild the wall to fortify the city.

    You have a mission… build a bridge to fortify relationships.

    Keep building. Keep striving to focus on God – daily – just like I know you do. And realize that the ultimate defender of your life is God… oh, and don’t forget to give yourself grace thru all of it – you are in a really difficult world – so just like the rest of us (who don’t always comment, but keep coming back) believe in you…. keep believing in who God has created you to be and what He has created you to do.

    Praying for you…. proud of you pushing into God to find answers… :)

  • Debbie Vanderbilt

    Andrew,
    You may have heard about a very hurtful time I’ve been going through because of some a very close Christian in my life. Betty and Brenda know the details. But God is so good. He orders our steps – when we dive into His Word. There is no such thing as coincidence!
    When I was in Panama City, FL this past Sunday, I went to a Ladies Sunday School Class, and it just happened to be on “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. In the class they watched video #4 of this series. In this video, John Bevere is talking about receiving unfair treatment – by religeous leaders! 1 Peter 2:20 – 22 and 1 Peter 3:8-9 says it all. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
    22″He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[a]
    1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
    Notice that twice it says “to this you were called”.
    Andrew, I gave Betty a copy of John Bevere’s THE BAIT OF SATAN – LIVING FREE FROM THE DEADLY TRAP OF OFFENSE. On page 122 – 128 there is a Video Script of the video that I watched on Sunday. Please read that. It will encourage you.
    We love you and are praying that you will be strengthened by the Word!

  • Kelli

    Andrew- I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this topic. I heard you speak yesterday in Chicago and am so glad I can “hear” you talk about these things again. Praying for you as you continue to build bridges despite people on both sides trying to burn you and your bridges.

  • Craig

    Andrew – Robert Gagnon did you a great service of love son, so I hope you would pay some mind to it and reevaluate. Especially in the overly self-appointed “counter cultural” circles we reside we can get pretty short-sighted and defensive. If you are wrong in your views you have a lot of direction you have been giving which is hugely destructive. Don’t measure success by the sympathetic embrace of peers. Jesus did not, and maybe you are exchanging what you think is the wrong “crowd” for another “wrong” crowd. If you are right then you are pointing people in the wrong way to see the light. But be real careful, discerning and unafraid to rethink your views.

    There is a lot one has to answer for with a status as a teacher of others in the church and your discomfort over this criticism may be a sign you have some deadly serious things out of whack. When one starts equating truth with oneself, all kinds of angst arises for us when someone criticizes us. On this scripture issue my vote is that Robert’s got the clearer, far more loving and truthful answers from God on this than I sometimes hear from the mainline, hipster, emergent or whatever church and even you. Robert is a little tough but then again so is the Jesus of Scripture. Emotivism is a real risky way to live a life, (ask those among us with homosexually transmitted diseases). Emotivism is also deadly when it comes to be one’s way of knowing God. Don’t succumb to it. Dialog with the good Dr.


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