I mentioned recently hearing Bob Russell talk about the toll that criticism takes over the long haul. He told about an Easter service a couple years ago that he thought was the best he'd ever been part of. Knowing Bob, that means that the resurrection of Jesus was proclaimed clearly. But afterwards, an older woman came up to him and complained that it was the first Easter service she could ever remember where the song "Up From the Grave He Arose" wasn't sung. (So we're not the only ones who sing that song?)

He also mentioned a guy coming to him recently after one of his messages and bragging about his sermon. But he said, "It reminds me of the kind of messages you used to preach years ago when we came to this church."

Some compliments hurt ... because they are complaints with complimentary ribbons on top.

Recently I preached my little heart out at the ACU lectureship. The next morning I ran into someone from our church who said, "I heard you last night. It was so wonderful to finally see you in a suit again." That was it. Thanks so much. A few Sundays ago, when the second assembly was over, someone came to me and said, "That was great. It really seemed like you meant it today." Uh, yeah. Thanks. I don't usually mean it.

Both of those anecdotes are so small and insignificant. But Bob was right about the long haul.

They are complaints with complimentary ribbons on top.
I'd like to continue growing into the image of Christ so much that some day I can receive every criticism. I'd like to be so centered in my inner being, so reliant on God's acceptance of me, that I could hear the truth in criticism and not be bothered by what's not true.

But in the meantime ... I'll keep reading Henri Nouwen. He struggled with the same thing!