Messing up and missing out.

So, in one of those rare moments of pondering recently, my tiny mind splurted this idea out:

And I popped it onto my facebook page too. And it seemed to chime with people. So that got me thinking about it a bit more.

And I think perhaps we’ve got so much practice at preaching the dont’s that we’ve ended up forgetting the positive stuff.

Instead of giving people an invitation to something amazing, it’s like we’re red-carding them out of the game.  We’re appointing ourselves umpire of their lives, and looking for all their mistakes.  We’re saying to them, “you’re messing things up”.  So if and when we do ever get round to inviting them to something far greater, to saying, “God loves you a massive amount”, they either don’t believe our message, or have gone off us enough to ignore us.

The fact of the matter is, we mess up, and we haven’t straightened ourselves out.  We rely on God to do that with us as an ongoing process.  So why do we work so hard at criticising people for living imperfect lives?   Why don’t we point them to a destination beyond their wildest dreams, and then journey with them towards it?  Perhaps because that second way is harder.  It’s easy to criticise others (particularly when they’re making the same mistakes we know we’re guilty of), but harder to invite them to something special and then live like we mean the invitation.  Because the journey requires long-term investment, while a criticism takes only a moment.  The journey will include correction and rebuke, but always in the context of the destination.  It’s not just a “you’re screwing things up”, it’s a, “don’t stray: we’ve come this far together, let’s not forget where we’re going”.

How about you?

Do you think Christians are better at criticising than encouraging?

If you’re a Christian, what steps can you take to address this?

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6 Responses to Messing up and missing out.

  1. dorothy726 says:

    utterly agree.
    honest truth is we all fall short, if we point the finger at someone else, our other fingers are pointing back at us.
    Lord, have mercy on us all.
    And yes, yes, yes – offer others hope and love not condemnation and criticism. None of us can earn our relationship with God or with one another.

    • nickparish says:

      Thanks Dorothy. My thoughts were a bit muddled, it has to be said, but I’m glad people seem to have got the general gist of it 🙂
      I guess another reason I’m good at criticising is because I’m hoping that, by drawing attention to others’ faults, I’m trying to stop people noticing my own…

  2. Sipech says:

    I was thinking the other day about the difference between what I think and what I say. I worked out that if I speak criticism, it tends to be against those with whom I am closest. I think a part of it can be that where I have identified and agreed with someone in the past, they then say something that I wish to distance myself from.

    For example, I get annoyed around this time about those who get a bee in their bonnet about “it’s not Christmas, it’s advent” – which strikes me as very Pharisaic. Though on reflection I may be just as Pharisaic about them, which rather reminds me of Newton’s third law.

    In an effort to be more positive, I’ve started to blog my way through the Heidelberg Catechism, giving a positive statement of beliefs, rather than nit-pick at others. At the rate of one question per week, this should take about 3 years to complete.

    • nickparish says:

      Thanks for your comment 🙂
      Reading your “it’s not Christmas, it’s advent” bit, I can’t help wondering how I respond to these sorts of comments. I reckon that if I have grace and patience, I’ll respond in an excited sort of “and aren’t both Christmas and advent such exciting times?” way. But in reality I’m far more likely to give a grouchy “don’t be a smarty pants” sort of way. Both acknowledge the other person is technically correct, but one builds up while the other tears down. A distinction I need constantly to recognise and use in my interactions with others.

  3. Jörg (the German one) says:

    Spot on, Nick! Again and again I have to notice that I really like your theological thoughts, because they are so… well, Christ-like, I guess. 😉

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