(If you didn’t read the previous post, you might consider doing so…in case I can’t make this make sense on its own.)
Today has been a full day of blessed meetings, phone calls, and contacts…but also a day saturated with the awareness of growth. That’s all so exciting to me.
As I am typing this post, I feel lighter and hopeful. I have been able to shut the door on the negative messages I had allowed to permeate my thinking, mood, and actions.
My work with writing critique groups has been very helpful as I have struggled to understand the critique I received on my messages. Here are few important things I’ve learned about critique:
- When people are courageous enough to give you their perception, don’t ignore it. As weird as it may sound: it is a gift.
- As the receiver of critique, we have the opportunity accept or reject what is being offered. Prayerfully listening will assist in one’s ability to discern what’s best and truly helpful.
- This bullet may not apply to you, but it’s abundantly true for me: I do not need to be perfect. Perfection, or the expectation of perfection, can often limit our ability to grow. I will either be disappointed because I’m not measuring up, or feel defeated and just give up. My goal needs to be growth (process/journey) not perfection.
- There’s always something to be learn. When we stop learning, we stop living.
So how do I apply this learning from my experience with writing critique. Here’s what I know about myself.
- I like writing devotions. I major in paring down the fat, leaving the nugget. So why should I be wounded that someone is saying I’m too long winded. Cut back on the fluff and make sure the treasure (main point) shines. Editing is our friend.
- I teach a course to men and women preparing for leadership in the Church of the Brethren that focuses on Christian Education in the Small Church. I remember clearly telling the class that the message is not the be-all-end-all of the worship experience. Yes, I put enormous energy and study into crafting a message plan that builds on the full word of God. I give attention to my year plan and series of messages. I focus on the things that are distinctive to Brethren. I challenge myself. I listen to the Spirit. I’m sensitive to the needs of the people. But the message is just one part of the worship experience. I had forgotten this. The weight I put on the message and myself had become disproportionate. I don’t even like thinking about what it had become.
Here’s where it gets super exciting for me. The Enemy of my soul and ministry was winning while I was stuck licking my wound. Ugh. Nelson was right. I let it go on way too long. The great and wonderful news is: I’m back! I’m ready to grow. I have a new tool and I’m not afraid to use it—to the glory of God and the help of my neighbor.
Get ready church! God’s my best editor. Here come his treasured nuggets.