One of the interesting things I have noticed in my years of public ministry are the different ways people can choose to see the life of a leader. On one hand, someone loves and respects you and says nice things, and on the other hand, someone else makes unkind comments about you as they exit your life. I am learning that we cannot take things personal.
Recently, I had the honor of speaking at a national conference in Los Angeles. The person who introduced me is one of the most respected and recognizable faces in the Church, both in the United States and around the world. When I was introduced this person said some very honoring things about my life and ministry. I was overwhelmed with the favor that had been extended to me.
That same week a woman left our church because she didn’t like me. She came to her conclusion without talking with me and decided I was a major problem in her life. Her anger and dishonor fell on me like a load of mud.
As I reflected on these two extremes of how a life is viewed, I realized that some people will love you and others may not like you at all. This is not just a problem for pastors – we all encounter this if we live long enough. What really matters in life is what God thinks of us. He uses words like, Loved, Forgiven and Accepted to describe His children. God chooses to see us this way even when all our warts, blemishes, and failures are fully visible to Him. He knows all about His children and He still loves us.
When I was introduced at the conference in Los Angeles my pride kicked in and I immediately had to park the kind words spoken about me at the feet of Jesus. When the woman left our church, I had to park her angry words at the feet of Jesus also. Only at His feet can He touch the words spoken about us – the good and the bad – and help them become a healthy influence in our lives. When God has possession of what others think about us, He can use those experiences to grow us past the personal definitions others have, so we can begin live our lives more like the person He has already declared us to be in His Son, Jesus Christ.