Starting a new job can be awkward to say the least. On the one hand, you want to be authentic and on the other, you want to be absolutely perfect and adored by all. Sadly, in a fallen world they don’t quite go together. Right now, I’m honeymooning (with joy I might add) but in due time, the criticisms will come, warranted or unwarranted, and how does a saint prepare?

While musing, I reflected on a spat with Tara, the Christian Fellowship Club leader during my sophomore year of college. She had a bone to pick with me as did many. I knew the conversation was going to be critical in nature so I was bracing myself for impact like bumper cars. The conversation went something like this:

T: Hey Dave, I wanted to talk because I think you could use your influence for far more good.
D: Alright, good like what?
T: For God. You don’t come to CFC anymore, we meet right next to your room.
D: Yeah, I have class on Wednesdays. 
T: And the other days?
D: Busy.
T: Busy doing what? You said you would help out. Just look at the way these guys hang around you, you have influence use it for Him. 
D: Wow, how do you know I don’t talk about God to my friends? You’re out of line.
T: Okay, whatever, I said what I said. You’re arrogant David, and it’s not a good look. But I’ve been praying and I’ll keep praying.
(She exits)

My pride flared up, and I began rehashing all the ways in which she was wrong:

I have class on Wednesdays! She doesn’t know what I do in my private time. She shouldn’t assume. I can’t make people love God!’

On and on…I was attacking her minor points, while neglecting the crux of her argument: My arrogant attempt to rob God of His glory.

Yeah, Tara was wrong about the little things, the details, but she was right about what mattered most. And if I had only cared more about God’s kingdom than my own brittle sense of self, I would have been able to hear Him through her.

So, how does a saint prepare for criticism? Looking back, I needed to:

  1. Make a practice of self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  2. Consider others more important than myself (Philippians 2:1-7).
  3. Remember that sanctification comes before glorification (1 Peter 1:6-9, 5:8-10).

Criticism is inevitable for us all. The goal is to receive it graciously and prove oneself free from the tyranny of self. GRC, I’m excited to continue to practice and internalize these truths and ask that you join me, if you haven’t already. I expect it to bear wonderful fruit down the line.

Until He comes,

David Noel Jr.

David Noel, Jr.is the new Director of Youth Ministry at GRC. He is engaged to Nendirmwa Parradang, to be married in May 2018.