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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

13 Dec '14

Critical spirits and the Christian community

Posted by T.J. Addington
If there is one thing that I wish we could erase from the Christian community it is the spirit of criticism. I am not talking about raising legitimate concerns about issues or circumstances but about individuals who consistently stir the pot and whose default is to criticism rather than to encourage. Criticism is not a spiritual gift! In fact it is just the opposite - it emanates from a spirit of mistrust, pride and superiority.

A spirit of criticism is life taking rather than life giving and as such is not from the Father (John 10:10). It emanates from the lower nature. There are congregations that specialize in criticism and it holds them back from being all that they can be. There are individuals whose specialty is criticism and I for one don't want to have such on my staff or for that matter in my circle of friends. I prefer to rub shoulders with life giving individuals rather than life taking. The world is cruel enough and adding critical spirits to it is anything but edifying.

The book of Ephesians talks a lot about the kinds of attitudes and words that should characterize believers and none of them include a spirit of criticism. In fact, we are told that nothing should come out of our mouths that does not uplift those who we speak to. Something to consider.

Before we criticize we ought to ask ourselves these questions:

  • Is this simply a preference for how I would do things?
  • Will my comments encourage or discourage?
  • What is it in me that creates a critical spirit?
  • How would I feel if I had made this decision and was criticized for it? 
  • How would Jesus approach this issue? Would he approach this issue?
  • Do I really want to weigh in on this issue? The more critical we are the less we are heard. Does this raise to the level where it is really necessary for me to be critical?
Leaders are especially magnets for criticism. They make decisions and many love to second guess what those decisions should be. Board members or staff who have a spirit of criticism are the cause of much discouragement for leaders. For those who have such a gift of criticism I wish they could walk for a week in the shoes of a leader. It is easy to criticize. It is much more difficult to come up with real solutions.

Think of the fruit of the spirit. None of the characteristics include a spirit of criticism. We ought to be quick to encourage and slow to discourage. Criticism is the ultimate trigger for discouragement. Even when Jesus confronted sin he did so with great grace (the pharisees excepted). A spirit of criticism is not a spirit that comes from our Savior.

All of T.J. Addington's books are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 discount on orders of ten or more.