I’ve seen the four year political cycle all the way back to Nixon/Kennedy. I’m old, I know. But I can’t remember an election where so much mud (and worse) has been slung, regardless of who your favorite candidate might be.
It would be nice if the political arena were the only pit from which mud is slung. But thanks to social media, people no longer have to vent in person. They can enter a password, start typing, and sling away with unfiltered criticism aimed at anyone they choose. And on occasion, you, Mr. Pastor, are the target.
Now I believe that measured criticism, coming from the right person at the right time is a gift. When a blind spot is addressed by a caring friend, we should humbly receive it and thank them for their faithful wounds. But a mud-filled Tweet or Facebook post hardly qualifies as faithful or beneficial. It is intended to do harm, to inflict pain, to hurt.
If this has already happened to you, your stomach is probably tensing up right now as you replay the story in your mind. If it hasn’t happened to you or your church yet, it’s probably a matter of time. I’m not being pessimistic here, it is the world we live in.
So here are some things to consider if you are someone’s target:
- What grain of truth can you extract from this, regardless of the source? See David’s reaction in 2 Sam 16
- Delaying a response almost always produces a wiser response. Sleep on it. Prov. 15:1 says a gentle answer defuses anger
- Consider the value of no response at all. My pastor rarely ever responds to social media mud. Responding is like inviting another round of slinging, and can actually give credibility to the source
- Jon Acuff says, “If you create anything, you will get criticized.” If you preach and teach, introduce fresh ideas, challenge people to grow, touch someone’s conscience, you will get attention. And some of it will be negative.
Almost everywhere Jesus or Peter or Stephen or Paul went, they faced opposition. They expected it. And they kept right on doing what they had been doing – living to advance the Kingdom of God.
Don’t get distracted. Get back to work. Mud washes off.