The Nine and the One

Are you like me, in that it’s the negative comments that consume more of your brain power than the positive ones?
We could have 9 really positive, uplifting and affirming comments about us, but one person says something negative, and we dwell on that one comment.

It doesn’t really have to be negative, the comment could totally miss the point you were trying to get across.
I once gave a sermon that was going to be a bit challenging and provoking. So I used humor and a humorous analogy (involving a balance beam) to sort of “sneak” it in instead of beating them across the head of the message. Sort of a surprise attack, if you will.

At the end, I got lots of compliments and positive feedbacks (I have a blog post about that too brewing in my head), but this one person came up to me and said, “You were great! I would’ve paid money to see a show like that!”
The entire week, I couldn’t stop playing that person’s comment over and over in my head, while running through the sermon in my head. What about it seemed like a “show”? What did I do to come off as an entertainer? It wasn’t even that funny. He would pay money? Was I an entertainer rather than a preacher that day? Does this guy think I was doing a routine rather than preaching?
Okay, these thoughts “entertained” my mind more than a week. In fact, to this day (this was about 2 years ago) I still think about that comment. And it does affect my sermon preparation, for the better and for the worse. I know it’s not much, but for some reason, it’s one of those where I can’t seem to shake it off. And I should be able to.

That one comment could also be something completely unrelated to you. You can have a great worship experience, and someone would come up and say, “The bulletin was really hard to read” and *boom*, we’re thinking about the bulletin. Is it really hard to read? Should I take this seriously, because she’s like 90 years old? Does she have a legitimate concern? Do we need a bulletin? And on and on and on we go.

That “one” can consume our thoughts in an unhealthy way. Especially if it’s something trivial, like the font size of a bulletin (at least that would be trivial for me).
We can’t let it consume us, or it will hold us hostage.
At the same time, we can’t be the people that completely ignores all the criticism (both trivial and legit) and think that our poop don’t stink, and blaming their ineptitude for the basis of their criticism.

My football coach once told us, “Don’t let success go to your head and don’t let failure go to your heart.”

Criticism (and praise) is part of ministry and leadership.

How do you handle them?
What are ways for you to stop focusing on “the one”?


2 thoughts on “The Nine and the One

  1. First of all,when I read this on my Google Reader, immediately after the post, in huge letters, were the phrases “RATE THIS” and “LIKE THIS” – but that aside, I’m with you on this. The “one” can ruin my day. I deal with this by talking it through with someone who understands and who is spiritually mature – my wife – and she always speaks Truth into the situation. That is always good.

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