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…
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.
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.