Criticism

(Life in the Public Eye Edition)

I’ve been listening to a lot of professional communicators lately. I’ve also been seeing a lot of people in the public eye, for better or worse.  Politicians. Preachers. Entertainers. Protesters. Prophets of doom. Leaders, or leader wannabes.  Victims or those pretending to be victims.

I’ve had some thoughts about all that.  Wildly accurate thoughts, of course, because hey, they were mine.  But rather than blather on about my forgettable opinions, I thought I would share some real wisdom.

As I have mentioned in previous posts like this one, I get a front row seat to some amazing writing, all sent like these with the hopes of earning an A on a paper or discussion forum.

(I get plenty of bad writing too, but I’m saving that for another day.)

So I’ve been keeping a file of my favorite student quotations for quite some time now, and today I would like to share a powerful collection with you. All of these are about something to do with living in the public eye, either as a leader or as a public servant or communicator.  Sooner or later this could be you in your 15 minutes of you-know-what.

Read on (it’s a quick read) and brace for impact. You will be impressed and blessed by these insights. [click to continue…]

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Senior

Hello, this is Carl.

Hi Carl. A mutual friend gave me your card. Is this a good time to talk?

Sure. How can I help?

Well, I’m not sure if you can. The card says “Criticism Coach.”

Yep. That’s me.

I gotta be honest. I’ve never heard of a criticism coach.

Neither had I until the day I decided the world needed one.

So you just sort of made this up?

Well, I formalized the idea a couple of years ago. But I’ve been criticoaching for years.

Criticoaching?

Yeah, that’s my shorthand term for it. I did make that up.

What is a Criticism Coach?

So at the risk of asking a dumb question, what’s a criticism coach? [click to continue…]

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Standing Out

You lose the right to privacy when you fail to be ordinary.

If you stand out, you’d better be ready to stand up.

Spectacular successes and epic face-plants invite public scrutiny…

Divided opinions…

Loose-lipped speculation…

And endless reminders that people like you…

Or don’t.

The alternative? [click to continue…]

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Quicksand

Ever have a conversation like this?

Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.

Not sure.  Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.

I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.

The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal.  If it were easy, anybody could do it.  But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.

At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.

At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.

Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]

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Leadership TestIn his profile of University of Alabama quarterback A. J. McCarron, John Wertheim describes a scene that took place when the record-setting quarterback first arrived and joined the team as an 18-year-old freshman.

At his first intrasquad scrimmage McCarron was grouped with walk-ons, facing the defensive starters.  He was sacked early and often, and wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t even remove his cleats before marching into Coach Nick Saban’s office afterward.

“I need to talk to you,” he snapped.

“O.K.,” said Saban.

“You want me to show you what I can do, how I can play? Well, I can’t do s— when you put me with walk-ons who can’t even block. I don’t understand why you don’t put me with the [starters].”

“Why? Because today we were testing your leadership,” Saban said, barely looking up. “And you failed. Miserably.”

Life is filled with little tests (and big ones), and they aren’t always what they seem. Tests of faith. Tests of skill or knowledge. Tests of character.  Tests of performance. And yes, tests of leadership.

Most of these tests reveal themselves in the rearview mirror, not in the windshield. It’s only after the fact that we can truly see them for what they are.  What we can do, however, is use hindsight to identify when others faced tests of leadership and learn from their successes or “miserable failures.”  Here are five ways to recognize when your leadership was being tested: [click to continue…]

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CriticOnce there lived a hard-to please husband whose wife was determined to try her best to satisfy him, if just for one day.

“Darling,” she asked that morning, “What would you like for breakfast? “

He growled, “Coffee and toast, grits and sausage, and two eggs ‑ one scrambled and one fried.”

She soon had the food on the table and waited for a word of praise.  After a quick glance, he exclaimed, “Well, if you didn’t scramble the wrong egg!”

Now that’s hard to please!

Of course, critics are nothing new. As long as people have aspired to rise above the level of the mediocre masses there have been people who attacked their motives for doing so.

As long as people have exhibited qualities of leadership there have been those in positions of power who used verbal attacks, “coaching,” and “constructive criticism” to “keep them in their place” and maintain control.

As long as somebody has offered to try to make something better by (gasp!) changing some things, there have been gossips and fish heads who questioned their right to be there, or anywhere for that matter.

Other than politics, nowhere will you find more criticism than the kind that’s hurled around in the name of God or religion. And if that describes you, I have a message for you:  God just called and He wants His name back. [click to continue…]

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Six Signs of a Spiritual Attack

“Well, how did it go?” Robin wanted to know.

“I just want to be teachable,” I said in a hollow, measured voice.

“What did he say?” she asked – getting ready to rise up in my defense.

What did he say, indeed?  The scene happened during my first pastorate.  Our church had grown quickly and had experienced changes, which is never an easy thing.  Now we were trying to establish our annual budget and define our biggest priorities.  And a man I’ll call Joe wanted to know if he could meet with me.

When we got together, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, “It is obvious that you aren’t here to help our church grow, but to make a name for yourself.”

Ouch.

I listened mostly (although I did tell him I didn’t appreciate him judging my motives).  I listened as he talked about church’s former days.  I listened as he talked about troublesome people.  I listened as he offered his version of a solution to our problems.  I listened (and stared, frankly) as he “led” us in prayer – weeping all the while.

And I went home, still listening.

I Hate Criticism.

For years I hollered to whoever would listen that “there’s no such thing as constructive criticism.”

I was wrong. [click to continue…]

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An old fable passed down for generations (and doctored a little bit)…

An elderly man was traveling with a boy and a donkey.  As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.  The young people there said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed on the animal’s back.

When they came to the next village, the moms in the crowd said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride.  To please them, he got off and set the boy on the donkey’s back and continued on his way.

In the third village, senior adults accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk.  The suggestion was made that they both ride.  So the man climbed on and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the animal rights activists were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road. [click to continue…]

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spiritual-gifts-wordleSpiritual gifts are in the news lately.  Figured out what yours is/are yet?  It’s a fascinating study, provided we approach it with the right attitude.

The Internet Monk suggests that the Holy Spirit gives different people different gifts in different situations – challenging the assumption that we somehow receive a gift load when we are saved and carry that with us throughout a lifetime.

Tim Challies also wrote last month about discovering your giftings.

The Barna Research Group just did a survey on spiritual gifts and discovered some interesting stuff.  Since they’ve been doing this for a while, they reported some fascinating trends among Americans claiming to be born again:

  • Evidently the Holy Spirit is recognizing a greater need for encouragement over the last several years (can’t imagine why!).  The percentage that claims to have the gift of encouragement has tripled – growing steadily from 2% in 1995 to 6% today.
  • Also, apparently the Spirit has decided that Americans have enough understanding of the gospel (or maybe that some of the mega churches have all that sown up).  Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.
  • On the other hand, Lucy, churches may have some ‘splainin’ to do. Evangelicals who have no idea what their gift is rose from 8% in 2000 to 13% today.

One of the questions about spiritual gifts that comes up occasionally is whether the gifts mentioned in Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, and Romans are exclusive. That is, are those sixteen or seventeen spiritual gifts the only ones the Holy Spirit gives?  Were those lists – all of which are different – meant to be just examples, or are they the only possibilities?

That sure came up on the Barna survey!  More than one-fifth (21%) of survey respondents claimed to have spiritual gifts that aren’t mentioned in the Bible.  These include:

  • a sense of humor
  • singing
  • health
  • life
  • happiness
  • patience
  • a job
  • a house
  • compromise
  • premonition
  • creativity
  • clairvoyance.

So I gotta tell you, my wheels are turning.  While it may be risky to step outside the framework of the Bible, the possibility of other spiritual gifts brings up some interesting ideas.  If other spiritual gifts really do manifest themselves in the Body, then I think I may have discovered some.  And I’m sure building a wish list for others.  So with apologies to the Apostle Paul, here are ten possible charismata he just didn’t mention:  [click to continue…]

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A Fungus Among Us

by Andy Wood on February 16, 2009

in Insight, Life Currency, Words

critic-4I’m about to share some relevant, important information to you – especially if you are interested in starting a business or avoiding germs.  I’m also going to show you something that’s so painful, it’s funny (or vice-versa).  Why?  Because I can!  And because The National Enquirer was right about inquiring minds.

But first, a story with a point.

I miss my old friend Randall.  During our younger years, we spent many hours together praying, talking, and clowning around.

Randall once told about a funny, yet convicting experience.  For a long time he’d been watching another highly-respected Christian.  One day he announced to his brother Leigh, “I think I’ve finally found something wrong with Greg.”

Leigh, known for his dry humor and sometimes biting sarcasm, replied, “Congratulations!  You found the mote!”

The “mote” to which Leigh referred was the old King James word for “speck” in Matthew 7:3-5.

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Next time you’re in a crowd of people, Christians in particular, look around.  You will find your share of people whose “eyes” are filled with “motes.”  And you’ll be tempted to look past the pole in your own eye to notice, criticize, or try to correct the specks in someone else’s. [click to continue…]

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