Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
March 19, 2017
A unique solution to the problem of criticism
The disapproval of others can kill you. So unless you live by yourself on an island somewhere, you must learn to handle criticism.
Pastors, who may lose their job unless they “please” most of their people, must find a way to deal with those saints who resist every new idea because “we have never done it that way before.” Complaints can rob pastors of much needed sleep.
Bill Hinson was the pastor of one of the largest churches in America, First United Methodist Church in Houston. Though obviously very effective and popular, Bill admitted that even the criticism of a few people was difficult for him to handle. Diagnosed with prostate cancer, Bill underwent a radical prostatectomy. In the days following his surgery, financial pressure within his church and complaints against him led to difficulty in sleeping.
“For the first time in my life,” Bill said, “I became depressed. I would go to sleep at night, but I would awaken almost exactly at 2 a.m. and would be unable to go back to sleep.
“I remembered from the biography of Harry Emerson Fosdick how his inability to sleep had preceded his nervous breakdown. The more I thought about it, the harder it was to sleep. Two things happened that made the supreme difference for me.
“First, I found a therapist who happened to be a Christian. He helped me understand why I could get a hundred letters that were complimentary and shrug them off, but could receive one that was critical and take it to bed with me.
“While working with my therapist, I had a spiritual experience that carried me to another level on my Christian journey. I awakened one morning, right on schedule at 2 a.m. This time, however, I knew God was about to speak to me. I did hear God’s voice. Not an outer voice to be sure, but an inward voice, still and very, very real. God simply said, ‘This was my church before you were born. This will be my church when you are dead.’ I received that message, turned over and went to sleep. My wife had to awaken me the next morning.”
Then Bill shared the secret of how he found victory over debilitating criticism. “That day, and every day since, my first conscious thought upon awakening is to give myself to God and to inquire what He wants me to do today to help Him with His church I have been His associate pastor for the last six years, and it is proving to be remarkably healthy.”
Bill preached for 47 years but he would admit that his best years were those years he served as God’s Associate Pastor. It was his unique solution to the problem of criticism. Bill’s plan may not work for every pastor but every pastor must find some way to put criticism to bed so he can get some sleep.
And so must we all. No matter what arena of life you serve in, you will have your critics. If you do not already have a good plan for handling criticism, Bill’s plan might be an excellent choice.
Break down what Bill did. He stopped listening to his critics and started listening to God. Instead of wrestling with his faultfinders, he began to focus on doing what he felt pleased God. That approach might just work for any of us. + + +