Encouragement & Criticism

I have an Encouragement File that I keep in the drawer closest to my chair at the office. That’s where I put all the attaboys I receive: cards, letters, and emails from people who have taken the time to tell me I’m doing a good job at one facet of ministry or another.

But just on top of that drawer is another drawer. That’s where I keep some correspondence that, to put it mildly, is not so encouraging. The kind of correspondence that questions my intelligence, spirituality, and motivations.

Why keep some of both?

Because I believe that leaders in general and pastors in particular are never quite as good as their fans want to think . . . nor quite as inept as their critics claim. Those two kinds of correspondence that I keep around are subtle reminders not to believe all my headlines — for good or for ill.

I suspect that there is both “wheat” and “chaff” in my encouragement file and my criticism pile. As a leader, I have to be bold enough to believe the wheat and honest enough to admit to the chaff.

So that in the end, when it comes to leadership, I’ll be able to read the one headline that really matters: “Well done, my good and faithful . . . “

By the way, one of the best leadership blogs comes from Tim Stevens of Granger Church in Granger, Indiana. You can read it here.