To Thine Own (Best, God-Designed) Self Be True

Years ago, in the first church I served as a pastor, I had a church member who would send me emails a couple of times of year--emails that were filled with criticisms of everything we were doing wrong in the church, and what she would do to fix them.  

The fact that her communications generally arrived around Christmas and Easter each year was not a coincidence. They were, in fact, the only times a year that she attended church.  

When I would read her criticisms, my blood would reach the boiling point.  "Who does she think she is?" I would ask my wife.  "She shows up twice a year and knows everything about everything?  Not likely!"  

And then I would quote some Scripture...sort of.  

"Jesus taught us to make sure the plank of wood is out of our eye before we start trying to tell someone else they've got a speck of dust in theirs.  That woman has a whole lumber yard in her peepers!"  

This is the verse I was attempting to quote:  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?"  (Matthew 7:5)

What I was missing in the midst of all of my righteous indignation was the possibility that my twice-a-year critic might actually have a point.  She very well may have had her own issues, but I was unwilling to even entertain the notion that she might have uncovered a speck in my eye that was keeping me from seeing clearly.  

And I definitely did not even remotely consider this possibility:  What seemed like a "speck" to me, might actually be a "plank" to other people.  

Mark Manson recently wrote, "...our values determine the nature of our problems, and the nature of our problems determines the quality of our lives."  If we value truth and authenticity... if we value honesty and integrity... then we will never have to feel anxious or angry when we receive criticism from others, no matter how or by whom it's given. 

May you look to Jesus (the author and completer of your faith and life) for your identity and values.  May you strive, first and foremost to please God and God alone with your words and deeds.  And may you find the strength to be true to your best, God-designed self in all moments and with all people.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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