Friday, January 7, 2011

On Being a Target of Criticism

Carl Trueman has an excellent piece over at Ref21 about being the frequent target of email criticisms.

For me, the season also brought the usual Christmas accusation by email from somebody with time on their hands that I am a false teacher. Now, the world is full of people whom I regard as false teachers; but, given the choice of using two minutes of my finite life to send them an email decrying them for blasphemy and cursing their children to the fifth generation, or simply pouring myself a glass of wine, putting Mark Knopfler on the stereo, and stretching out on the sofa with a good book, I have to say the choice for me is clear. Yet the world is obviously full of more than a few people with no taste for wine, no Knopfler back catalogue, and no comfy sofa; so what better way to spend their time than firing off the odd heated email to somebody who has no clue as to who they are? For me, sufficient to the denomination and institution are the problems contained therein; so these days it takes a lot for me to engage on a personal level with a false teacher outside of my denominational or institutional patch.
Along the way, Dr. T. makes some important points about the gravity of the teaching office and the necessity of being accountable. I suggest you take time to read it.

As the pastor of a church I receive my share of accusations hurled from the comfortable distance that email provides the accuser. It is amazing how much bravery is birthed through social media.

Anyway, just this week I was accused of being both "right-wing" by a liberal (pretty sure he was not trying to complement me) and of being "part of the problem" by a fan of Alex Jones for not warning our congregation of the threats we face from our President or something like that. While pastoring in Kansas I was periodically criticized by political conservatives for not preaching politics or allowing an American flag in our worship center. I also took a few punches for not allowing "patriotic services" on 4th of July Sundays. My decisions were based on that whole two-kingdom thing which I don't have time to address here.

The point is, you can't please everyone. But so long as I am being whacked by some for being too political and others for not being political enough then perhaps I've found my sweet spot. Of course I recognize that's a pretty subjective standard. Maybe I could take down the American flag at Church of the Saviour but begin wearing an American flag tie. But that would require that I start wearing a tie. This is the kind of dilemma I face. Perhaps I will just go home, make a delicious pot of Italian roast, fire up a Partegas #10, and enjoy a quiet evening.


John said...

Just add a glass of wine and a fire crackling in the fireplace (it's snowing in northern Maine)!

In a Christian school setting, I've been told I was "liberal" (because of dress code changes) and that my "ultra-right wing policies" (also because of dress code changes) were destroying the school. Gotta love it!

Thanks for a regularly enjoyable blog.

Todd Pruitt said...

Excellent suggestions John. I will take you up on both! The one job I would NEVER want to do is headmaster or principal of a Christian school. Talk about never being able to please!

Well, from one right-wing liberal to another - have a pleasant evening!

Jerry F said...

Todd, hang in there, I think you're on to something. Keep it up! I'm not interested in seeing the gospel diminished to please one political perty or even the patriotic notions of some of its citizens on national-secular-holidays. That is a far too easy, and untrue, version of Christianity. Our brothers and sisters suffer every day, in the middle east, in China, and Haiti and elsewhere. let's concentrate on bigger things.