following story has been around for many years. I do not know who the
original author is. It well illustrates what most of us have
experienced from time to time. You simply cannot please everyone. It is
not reasonable to try. Our time and energy are best spent in trying to
do what is right. If some critic can help us to better understand what
is right, then it is reasonable to follow such suggestions. But
changing what we are doing or not doing to try to please unfair critics
is absolutely futile.
A man and his
grandson went on a journey, walking and leading a donkey. Soon they met
a passerby who said, "How foolish for both of you to be walking. One
should be riding the donkey." So the man put his grandson on the
animal. The next person they met frowned and said, "How dreadful for a
strong boy to be riding while an old man walks." So the boy climbed off
the donkey and his grandfather climbed on. The next traveler down the
road said, "I just can't believe that a grown man would ride and make a
poor little boy walk." So the man pulled the little boy up and they
rode on together.
This seemed to be
the solution, until they met the next fellow who cried out, "I never
thought I would see anything so cruel in all my life -- two intelligent
human beings riding one poor defenseless donkey." Down the road a
piece, they met a couple of men traveling together. When they passed,
one said to the other, "Did you ever see two dummies carrying a donkey
Soon after I began
preaching I was confronted by a critic who believed that there was
something wrong with preparing notes for sermons. At the time I was
using extensive outlines in the pulpit that I had prepared in my studies
during the week. The critic said, "A real preacher can stand up and
preach a sermon on any subject in the Bible right now without using
notes!" Over time I developed the practice of using fewer and fewer
notes while preaching expository sermons over passages of scripture. I
eventually got a wide margin Bible and now do most of my preaching from
the text of the Bible and the notes that I have made in the margin.
This takes more work in the study but it seems to be the most effective
way to preach the word of God for me at this time. I was not surprised
to hear another critic point out that "real preaching cannot be done
from a few notes scribbled in the margin of a Bible."
Such criticism comes
from a variety of sources. Job's "friends" came to him without
knowledge of what was actually going on and made criticisms concerning
things about which they were ignorant. They could have come with open
minds. They could have listened and learned. Instead they came
attempting to instruct Job.
The Sadducees were a
proud people in
where it is recorded that they came to Jesus attempting to "show Him
up". Jesus "put them to silence"
Before doing so the showed them where they had gone wrong; "Ye do err,
not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God"
Even though their criticism was put forth in the form of a question, it
was a loaded question that blew up in their faces. They should have
learned from the reasonable answer to their question. Instead, it
appears that they went quietly back to looking for opportunities to
bring Jesus down a peg or two.
Joshua 22 we
read of an incident in which the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half
tribe of Manasseh went back to the other side of Jordan. They built an
alter to God. Their brethren in Israel heard about it and assumed that
it was an altar to an idol. Based upon their assumption they prepared
to go to battle against them and kill them. According to
verse 16 the
whole congregation believed it! All of Israel was stirred up and
"red-hot mad" because they had failed to investigate before acting.
They nearly killed faithful brethren because of unfair criticism.
Before you criticize
ask questions and learn facts. If you must criticize try to help and
not hurt. Look first at yourself. Some of the most bitter criticism
seems to come from those who have the least knowledge of and interest in
Let us also be
prepared to at least hear those criticisms from brethren with open
Bibles and loving spirits. We should be ready and willing to repent if
we have done wrong (Psalm
Articles by Tim Nichols
The prudent Pause
Modest Dress With Propriety and
The Material From Which Deacons Are Made
A People of Principle