But honest Abe said something over fifteen decades ago that is important for you to hear as a church leader today...
"If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
Wow. I can't think of anyone that this could apply to more than today's pastor. Let's face it... if you're not attracting some fire and attacks, you're probably not being very effective. Criticism and confrontation are just part of being in ministry. But Lincoln had a great perspective on his critics:
- He acknowledged the existence of his critics. Abe knew he had critics. No doubt he knew their names and what their overall beef was with him. But it did not steal his passion for doing what he thought was right.
- While he acknowledged that there were attacks against him, he didn't feel the necessity to answer every one of his critics. As Lincoln put it, if he did this, he might as well close up shop. It would consume the time he needed to actually do his job.
- He realized that all he could do is all he could do. He is motivated by doing his best; not by making people happy.
- He kept perspective. Lincoln knew that his long-term success was determined, not by his short-term critics, but by the long-term results of his actions.
But Billy had his critics in the early days. People criticized him for the company he kept (including presidents from both sides of the aisle). They criticized him for working with all different denominations and backgrounds. He was criticized for his unique style of evangelism. His converts were blasted by some as not real or true believers of Jesus.
But Billy Graham persevered. He never answered the attacks with the same venom that was used to hurl them. He continued on... faithful... until last Wednesday when he breathed his last.
Lincoln said, "If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
How do you deal with your critics? And what can you learn today from Abe Lincoln?
Todd has invested over 30 years in serving churches, having served as a worship pastor for over 15 years, a church elder for more than a decade, and in various ministry leadership roles in both the business and non-profit sectors. As the original founder and developer of ChurchStaffing.com, Todd fundamentally changed the way thousands of churches search for pastors and staff on the internet. Most recently, Todd’s work with Leadership Network has provided him exposure to the innovative trends in today’s church and inside knowledge of how healthy churches operate and uses it to help churches find a healthy, long-term fit for their next team member. Todd is a graduate of Cedarville University, and lives in Bryan, OH with his wife, Dawn.