by Sally McClung
Many years ago I was talking to the Lord about getting close to people.......only to have them leave and go somewhere else. The Lord spoke so clearly to my heart and told me if I'd be faithful to love people and give myself to them, He would give me more friendships than I could handle. That has certainly happened! One of my biggest frustrations in life is that I can't keep up the level of sharing and communication with all my friends in the way I'd like because I have too many!!! A wonderful problem. Our grumpy next door neighbor accuses us of running a b 'n b without legal permission because he can't believe we have so many friends that come visit. :) If he only knew.....the ones who have come are just a drop in the bucket!
Some years later I was at another turning point. My life was so full (wife, mother, friends, leadership responsibilities, traveling/speaking, writing) that I felt I couldn't keep up with everything. I wondered what should stay/what should go/how did I decide. Derek Prince was with us. He made a statement that answered my questions. He said that we live in a world that presents so many challenges and opportunities. One question everyone had was "what do I invest in?" (with our time, our resources, our money) He said the answer is easy - always invest in people! That's what God does. Everything else fades, but investing in people lasts for eternity. So simple.
Once these foundations are in place.....then the hard part comes. :) Working with and relating to people!! Unfortunately criticism and disappointment will always be there in some way or at some level. If we want to accomplish something, then we'll be the object of criticism at some point. If we don't want to be criticized, then we can do nothing. We probably should expect it and be ready......easier said than done. Even Jesus himself couldn't please everyone!! A big key is finding our security in our walk with the Lord - not in whether people are happy with us or not.
I've been taught and have learned to "hear" the criticisms and ask God if there is any conviction from Him in them. If I'm wrong, I need to make it right (often easier said than done too because the criticisms tend to have a hurtful "barb" in them). But many times there is an element of truth - that's why we have to take them to the Lord. If it's unjust criticism (often from someone's pain or insecurity), then we need to try and "shake it off."
Of course we have to forgive!! One more thing that's easier said than done. But it's an act of will and by doing it, it will bring healing to our hearts. We need to be careful not to attack back, when those who leave are offended by us. We need to be on guard that bitterness doesn't enter in. Again I was taught to think of the needs of the person who is criticizing - why would they say this? What does it reflect in them?
We can only be hurt to the extent and depth that we love. If we love deeply, we can be hurt deeply. It's a risk - but a good one to take. :)
If we've been disappointed and hurt, it's important to respond in the opposite spirit. Easier said than done, but that is the clear goal to work toward. Forgive the person, pray for the person, look for ways to encourage and bless the person, ask God to see them as he sees them. This brings healing to our hearts and allows us to move on without carrying the offense with us.
More important than what people say is what God knows about us! Very few have been more criticized in the Bible than Noah. God said of him in Gen. 7:1 - "I have found you righteous in this generation." Quite a commendation.
Well......all this kinda poured out of me in response to a recent email from a friend, and Floyd suggested I post it here in case it would be a blessing to you as well. I don't know if any of it is helpful, but I decided to go ahead and share it. It was a good reminder to me as well!!!