I was recently with a group of friends talking about some things surrounding the subjects of worship, God, and the Bible. Instead of engaging fully in the conversation, I found myself getting distracted by an irritating underlying question:
“Can I trust what these people are saying?”
Even though it was a group of people that I am very close with, talking about things that were very important to me, the question still loomed in my mind.
Has that ever happened to you?
Maybe it’s just me. I have a very technical, evaluating and systematic mind that loves to mull over details like a fiend. This is good sometimes, bad other times. It’s a great quality when critical thinking is involved, but it does come back to bite me on occasion. I have a tendency to over think things unnecessarily.
The trick to not going crazy is learning to use this strength correctly.
Our pastor Kevin Myers preached a sermon not too long ago about the difference between a critical spirit and a critical eye. It was a very helpful clarification to see that a critical spirit puts negativity into every situation by finding everything that is wrong in what you see. A critical eye, however, looks at a situation and sees how things can get better. One focuses only on the problem, the other on the solution. Which do you think is more helpful?
I worked with a great friend and mentor of mine for years doing specialty repair work on windows and doors. We would go into all kinds of houses, churches and businesses and assess the damage to some very expensive pieces of glass. Every time we had the choice to focus only on the problem (how terrible the damage was), or to focus on finding the solution (how we could fix it).
I was mostly negative, but in his patience and wisdom my mentor drilled into my brain what became our motto: “We are problem solvers.” That mantra has made a huge difference in my life.
During the meeting I was telling you about, I suddenly realized what was going through my mind. In that moment it was as if God whispered to me:
“If you could just get beyond trying to grade EVERYTHING everyone is saying, you just might be able to hear me speak to you through them.”
Yeah. Got my attention too.
God moves in mysterious ways, and oftentimes my biggest problem is not that he isn’t speaking, it’s that I’m not listening. He can use anyone or anything to whisper to my longing heart, all I have to do is have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Don’t let a critical spirit, often disguised as a confident assertion that you have the right answers, stop you from hearing what he would say to you.