No Filter Friday {Criticism, The Oscars, Submission and Humility}

When your week begins with your pastor teaching on criticism prepare yourself.

Our new sermon series at church, “Giving up to Gain,” is intended to lead our church family through an intentional time of spiritual formation in this season of Lent. This last Sunday’s sermon was “Giving up Criticism.” On the week of the Oscars??? Are you kidding me? Well, it’s not even worth watching if I can’t be snarky.

I’m sorry, pastor, but my progress is slow. If you really wanted me to give up criticism, then we needed to preempt that sermon with one on giving up watching the Oscars…or TV…or people. I have a teenage son living in this house. We are in need of a lot of constructive criticism.

Does that sound like I’m criticizing the sermon? Well, I’m not really. It was a good word of exhortation, one I found guarding my heart and shutting my mouth on more than one occasion {but sadly not all occasions}. I agree with the pastor that our culture has made criticism an art form; it’s the backbone of social media. In thinking we had all the answers to solve the world’s problems, we needed larger platforms to voice our protest. Silencing the critic has been a helpful practice for me.

But now it’s Friday…

So what do you think of the word ‘submission?’ Yesterday I listened to the men in my class wax eloquent about the priority of submission in Jonathan Edwards’ spirituality and how it is now a word you rarely hear. Hmmmm….I’d say that may be a matter of perspective as the whirly-gigged eyebrows of the confused women in my class seem to attest. However, I think it brings up a good point. Eighteenth century Puritan religion was anchored in the belief that one’s life was to be marked by submission to God. Martyrdom was esteemed (and a real possibility) so submitting to God was seen as something that one did even unto death. Today…well, we are a little drunk on power, ambition and position, leaving much of the discussion around submission to be about submitting to one another and that {big thud} usually gets turned on a gendered ear.

But it does have me thinking how greatly our Christian communities {and especially my heart} are in need of humility. Humility and submission have to go hand in hand. Maybe we don’t hear or see much submission because we are too busy making gods of ourselves. We are the master’s of our own destinies, or so one might believe if they listen carefully to the way we prop up our sense of self-importance. And you have to listen carefully {to your own heart} to hear how subtly you dress up one-upmanship, know-it-all statements, and I’m-right-at-all-costs statements. We’ve become honey badger Christians who have forgotten that we are all under the hand of a mighty God.

This is the same week I’ve been studying John 13 and Jesus’ great example of humility in washing his disciples’ feet. I’ve been convicted how uncomfortable I am with wrapping the servant’s towel around myself and letting that…and that alone…define me. All you need is a couple “who’s the greatest?” conversations in your week to remind you how much pride you need scrubbed off yourself.

On that note, I’m off for a mani-pedi.

Enjoy your weekend!

3 thoughts on “No Filter Friday {Criticism, The Oscars, Submission and Humility}

  1. Fasting from criticism does sound like a tall order! How about the posture of superiority? That’s one I’m working on, and I get tripped up on it from the time I forget to kneel in prayer in the mornings. I’m going to keep trying to refrain from harsh criticism and from condecension, actively practicing humility as an art to be perfected, relying on God for the power and purpose that keeps me from needing to fabricate a counterfeit self-worth.

  2. Maybe instead of fasting from criticism, I need to gorge myself on true affirmation that desires to build people up. Replace one appetite with another… {Easier said than done though!}

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