Winning over a critical spirit

Your first response to the title is probably, “I don’t have a problem with that. I am not a critical person.” I would encourage you to become transparent rather than defensive. I don’t consider myself to have a critical spirit either but I am far more critical than I am willing to admit or need to be. To help you determine your degree of critical nature and at the same time begin to win over the critical root that you might have I would like to challenge you to join me in this exercise.

Would you go a day with me without criticizing anyone or anything? I’m talking in our thoughts and actions. How long can we go without a negative thought dominating our mind? Is your brain like mine, conditioned to find fault? Does our hard drive needed to be reformatted?

If we can’t stop the negative thoughts, at least can we stop the negative words? Will you commit to do that? I won’t tell you that we won’t fail, because we will, many times. But stemming the flow of critical words will introduce our heart to positive change.

Once we succeed at stopping the bad, will you made an additional commitment with me: will you started looking for good? Wherever you find something praiseworthy, talk about it. Instead of picking something to pieces, talk about all the good that God is doing. I think you will be amazed at all the good you can see. Remove your negativity lens, and your eyes will open to see God’s work everywhere. Slowly your whole perspective will change. Then God will begin to uses you to help others improve—not by tearing them down, but by building them up. Ask Him to teach you to do that, and see what a difference a little positivity can make.

Are you game?

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Why do I hate criticism so much?

I have really been doing lots of soul searching on the subject of criticism. I have just not been the best recipient of criticism, whatever the source might be. My first response is usually to defend myself to whatever degree I think necessary. I never was on a debating team in high school or college but I am a pretty good debater. And I must admit I have been accused a pushing the debate to excesses at times. I even feel proud of myself when I “win” the debate or at least I win in my perspective.

But there is a whole nother side of me when it comes to criticism. That is the avoidance issue. Because I dislike criticism so much I tend to do things that lessen the chance of it. Do you know what I mean? I bet you never do that.

As I have thought about and prepared to address the criticism issue in our Sunday gathering a question has come to mind that I have been “pondering” all week. Here’s what I’m talking about. I am an A type personality who lives by lists and the drive to get things done. And I have been accused of being a perfectionist (Is that criticism or a compliment?) even though I don’t agree with the assessment. Do you want to debate the issue?

I do like to do things right and get impatient with people who don’t feel about and approach responsibilities the same way. But I think my perfectionism has its limits.

But here’s my soul searching that I have been doing this week. Is it possible that my personal obsession to do things right is a means of avoiding or heading off criticism? If I do things with excellence there will be less imperfection to criticize. Does that make sense?

I would hope that my desire to do things with excellence is motivated by a love for Jesus and a passion to give Him my very best. But I wonder at times if the avoidance of criticism might work its way into the picture at times. What do you think?

Which brings up this question, what do you do to avoid criticism? Or how do you handle it when it comes your way?

What Did You Think About Relaunch?

pict0016I personally thought that NVCC relaunch day at Tomahawk Creek Middle School on Sunday was exhilarating and powerful. The set-up crew worked hard to turn a school building into a meeting place for the church and what a job they did.

As we moved toward our 10:00 starting time people began to stream toward the huge “Enter Here” banner. When the day was over just a few shy of 300 joined us for the day. Friends brought friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Other than a little trouble figuring out why our sound system was broadcasting over the school wireless network, everything came off pretty smoothly. With a few adjustments and corrections we will be ready to go again this week.pict0022

I began a four part series of messages on Confessions of a Pastor. What I addressed Sunday was “Sometimes I Doubt God.” If you’ve ever had any doubts when it comes to God I would encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to the entire message. You will hear me advocate some things about doubt that you don’t usually hear from a Pastor. Here’s a quick link to the message if interested. (Available 1/14/09)

http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57

Here is a link to the video of my confession that we showed just before the message.

http://www.youtube.com/relaxedchurch

If you missed the first week, how about joining us this week? If you made it last week, I hope it is your intention to return. And would you please tell others about your experience?

By the way, what did you think about the entire experience? I would love to get your two on it. Feel free to comment.

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What’s Brewing?

Are you new to New Venture and would be interested in hanging out a little while and getting to know each other a little better? Would you like to know a little more about NV and where she’s headed? Are you a little curious about this church that has moved to a nearby middle school? Would you like to have a better idea as to whether or not this church is led by a bunch of religious quacks?

If so, you are invited to join me, Steve, and my wife, Sharon, on Thursdays at Café Caturra, 13830 Village Place Drive, Midlothian, VA 23114. That’s any Thursday, beginning January 15. Café Caturra is in the middle of the old Village of Midlothian. Let’s say 6:30 PM. No reservations required. The coffee is on us.

Notice I said this is for new guests and visitors to New Venture. I will even go so far as to invite those who are considering checking out NV but haven’t done so yet.

We’ll hang out, get to know each other a little more and answer questions you might have about New Venture Christian Church. Come and find out what’s brewing with New Venture.

http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/map/622521/restaurant/Richmond/Cafe-Caturra-Midlothian

TCMS Relaunch is Almost Here

pict00643We have known for seven months and have been planning since May to move to a new meeting place for New Venture Christian Church. The day has almost arrived, January 11, 2009.pict00613

Last Sunday’s run through at Tomahawk Creek Middle School went remarkably well. We didn’t experience any challenges that could not be addressed or solved. We still have set-up and take-down efficiencies to develop but that is normal and will come with time.

To prepare for relaunch Sunday we have…

Prayed for hours and hours
Invited hundreds and hundreds of friends, family and neighbors
Posted 21 billboards in the Richmond area
Distributed 75,000 flyers (or will have before we are finished)
Prepared a quality ministry for kids, youth and adults
And trusted that all our efforts will bring fruit to God’s glory.

When we first launched NV in October of 04 we had 320 people at our first service. Even though many of those were curiosity seekers and well-wishers, it was a big day. We are hoping, praying and working for an all time attendance record for NV. We are hoping for at least 321 to come to Relaunch this Sunday. If you are reading this and able to do so, I would like to invite you to join us at TCMS at 10, this Sunday, January 11. Or come at 9:30 and hang out for a little while.

I believe you will be glad you did.
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Confessions of a Pastor

Life is not always a bowl of cherries, even for someone whose existence is devoted to ministry leadership. I face the same kind of temptations as everyone else. I deal with the same emotions that you struggle with. I have to learn how to grow through them and win over them if my spiritual journey is to experience progress.

To help us understand some of the struggles that are common to all of us I am beginning a new teaching series January 11, that I am calling “Confessions of a Pastor.” There is a lot I could confess to you, but I am going to stick to four areas of transparency.

Sometimes I doubt God.

I don’t like many Christians.

I stink at criticism.

I worry too much.

I think we have more in common than you might realize.