Monday mornings are challenging for pastors. Maybe the sermon tanked yesterday, attendance was down, or a key leader quit. Or it may have been a great Sunday, but now another weekend looms only six days away. The hardest part is the flood of criticism, both internal and external, a pastor feels on Monday morning. Many pastors say they want to quit every Monday morning, sadly about 1500 actually do quit every month.
As I think about and pray for all my pastor friends this Monday morning I’m reminded of this amazing quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Here are a couple of takeaways:
- The critic doesn’t count. Regardless if the critic is an elder, a volunteer or the little voice in your head if he isn’t in the arena he doesn’t count. Sure, we all need to get better, but only those engaged in the battle have a voice in the outcome.
- Being in the arena means being knocked down, getting dirty, making mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes, striking out, coming short you’re not in the game. The only clean jerseys at the final whistle are worn by players on the bench. “…there is no effort without error and shortcoming”
- You may succeed or you may fail, but the biggest loss is to sit in the stands.
Regardless of how your weekend went or how you feel this morning, my prayer for you is the final line of Roosevelt’s quote; if you fail, fail daring greatly. Don’t give in to the critics, don’t let discouragement or fear drive your decisions.
What do you believe? What do you feel in your heart? What decision would you make if you weren’t afraid to fail? Don’t let the fear of striking out, fear of criticism, fear of failure keep you from swinging for the fences.
If the Apostle Paul were in your office right now he’d tell you to ask and imagine and see what happens:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph 3:20, 21)
If you are a pastor, a church planter, a leader in your church don’t let fear, discouragement or fatigue drive you from the game on Monday. Get up, dust yourself off and get back into the arena.