People to Ignore: Critics and Groupies

I haven’t read much of Max Lucado’s writings… OK I haven’t read anything he has written.  But I saw this interview in the Leadership Journal and it has some good stuff.

As a pastor (or leader in general) you have to keep your feet on the ground.  You can get knocked off your feet by what people say. When you are the object of bitter (and false) criticism that hurts. But another unexpected danger comes from praise. At some point every pastor will have someone telling them that they are amazing. That “no one preaches like you do,” that “no one else understands.”  Its true we need both honest feedback and encouragement, but these two voices are not giving us either of those things.

Max Lucado talks about this danger in his interview.   It is easy to think about the danger of critics, and they get a lot of press.  But I appreciate the fact that he is dealing with reality on both sides.

Here is a highlight:

“As a pastor, what are some uniquely loud voices that you’re hearing?

“Every time somebody says, “You’re such a wonderful spiritual leader,” there is a temptation to believe that. Because I’m not. I may have a little more experience than they do, but I’m certainly not as good as they’re saying I am. But there’s a temptation to believe that I am. And there is a temptation to believe I am as bad as some people say I am.

“In every church there are naysayers, there are critics, there are unhappy people. I’ve been at this church since 1988. I’m closing in on 30 years, and I still have people who complain and are grumpy and critical. I have to fight that thought: Am I as bad as some people say I am? Those are the two extremes we in ministry really have to struggle with: feeling self-righteous or defeated. Their voices are completely different, but both of them require leaning into the truth. There has never been a Sunday that I’ve driven home from church having preached that I didn’t battle with insecurity.” (Emphasis mine)

Source: Max Lucado: Dangerous Voices | Leadership Journal

Science Headlines in the News are Frequently Wrong, & Scientists Are A Big Part Of the Problem

Bad Science Reporting

How Scientists Contribute to Bad Science Reporting – Pacific Standard.

This article from highlights the problem of errors in the way the media reports scientific discoveries.  Reporters are often a part of the problem, but a report from Cardiff University claims that official university press releases, approved by the scientists and their departments are most often the source of errors and exaggerations. Everyone loves to blame the media, but put down your pitchfork, in this case the media may not be to blame. The article reports:

“But a recent study [from the British Medical Journal] suggests that journalists aren’t the weakest link. The source of misrepresentations and exaggerations in science news stories is often much closer to the scientists themselves: press releases put out by researchers’ own institutions. Surveying hundreds of news stories and press releases about medical research, a group of scientists at Cardiff University found that most exaggerations and misrepresentations of science in print news “did not occur de novo in the media but was already present in the text of the press releases produced by academics and their establishments.” (emphasis mine)

There are likely a number of contributing factors. But the authors suggest that one source of the problem may be linked to inflated egos wearing lab coats. Scientists speak and write differently when talking to their educated peers than when they are speaking to the public.  They know that their peers will call them out when they overstate their research.  So official reports in scientific journals are subdued and highly qualified.  On the other hand, they are much more likely to exaggerate their claims when speaking to the uninformed public.

This doesn’t surprise me. I have long felt that the scientific community loves to be seen as the guardians of knowledge and progress.  This is another good reason to be suspect of sensational scientific research, especially when reported in the mainstream media.  These claims are never made apart from the temptations and motivations that corrupt politicians and marketers.


Seeing the Beauty of Christ Through Brokeness: Book Review

Beauty Brokenness

This is a short book (I read it in one day, a little more than an hour- I guess that makes it a booklet) and for only .99 on Kindle you can’t beat it. I would recommend the book to add to your perspective on pride, humility and suffering.

It is full of some golden observations on the need for humility in the Christian life, and especially in ministry. It speaks a note that is frequently missing, and one we would rather not face.  We would all like success without the pain of failure, suffering, and self-denial. But God uses these important teaching lessons to bring us the greatest joy and greatest usefulness. I love the emphasis in this book on the importance of character and humility over the value of personal skills and gifts.  The book is full of practical stories that flesh out his ideas, and these are helpful. He is also honest about his own pride and struggles and reveals how the Lord has humbled him. That is a rare trait as a leader. It makes me want to meet him!

I am a little at a loss about the title. The book isn’t really about the beauty of Christ. It is more like the value of brokenness as a prerequisite to usefulness in ministry. At least that was my perception.  I think this is important, because one of the most valuable things that happens in suffering is that the Lord is stripping away all of our false trusts in order to show us why Jesus Christ is better than those trusts.  There are hints of this in the book, but not as much about the beauty of Christ as I expected. It is possible to be stripped down and not be strengthened in Christ, and that is not at all a valuable thing. I am pretty sure the author would agree with me on this.

At a number of points he makes some statements that I disagree with, and those may reflect his theological perspective. I am not sure what his background is, so I can’t comment. But his emphasis on free will and talk about what God “cannot” do made me pause at several points. Also, the way he suggests that Jesus needed to be broken seems strange to me,  Jesus submitted to the cross because of our sin not because of any lack in himself.  His death is an example and a patter for us, but our need to be broken is because of our sin and self sufficiency.  His need to be broken was because we aren’t what we ought to be.

There is also an emphasis on our need to choose to be broken that seems to leave out an the miraculous movement of God to change the heart through the Holy Spirit apart from our permission.  Or perhaps I should say, that we come to the point of giving our permission because his grace has changed us, and only because of that miracle.  Of course he uses suffering as one of his tools, but he also uses the Holy Spirit blessing the word of God. There are many people that suffer and are still never broken. Others suffer and become humble and teachable. The difference is more than the will of man, it is the miraculous grace of God. Otherwise I could say that I am humble because of my choice and he is proud because he failed to make the choice that I made.

In spite of my reservations theologically, the book still has a lot of value. Thank you to the author  for writing and sharing your experience.