NOTE: Parents you could remove “leader” and “lead” with “parent” and this post would be instantly applicable.
Good leaders ask themselves this question. They ask because, 1) as good leaders often do, they have ventured beyond their natural abilities and, 2) as good leaders, the have humbly listened to the critiques of those they lead.
But there is a danger in this question. While it hangs over our head, we can go passive and wait for some confirmation before giving our whole heart. As a leader, I often find myself hungering for that atta-boy, that unanimous letter of recommendation that will give me permission to courageously take the point. But that isn’t leadership, at least as the Bible defines it.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:1–3)Notice how this issue looms over Paul and how he addresses it.
“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation.”But isn’t that the problem? Doesn’t that just reinforce the idea that our qualifications depend on what people think of us? Not if we look carefully at what Paul is saying.
The Corinthians are Paul’s letter of recommendation but not in a resume-"facebook-friends"-"twitter-followers"-"linked-in-connections" sort of way. The passage doesn’t say that Paul is written on their hearts, it says that the Corinthians are written on HIS.
Paul’s qualification as a voice of leadership to the Corinthians was that HE LOVED THEM not that they loved him. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that they didn’t love him (which is why they might be tempted to think he was trying to commend himself).
So, when you face insecurity over your qualifications, remember they begin with the answer to a simple question: Do you love the people you lead? Paul's love for the Corinthians was so intense that it became a source of confidence in his own leadership. When criticism rises don’t first defend your actions. Examine your heart. If you those you lead aren't "written" on your heart, start there because your lack of love may be the disqualification you fear.
The Pastor and Personal Criticism - C.J. Mahaney (this is the first post in a series by C.J. which is applicable to more than pastors)