I listened to Johnny Hunt’s message tonight at the Pastors’ Conference. Good message. But he did take a couple of pretty solid shots at those of us who blog. My first reaction was to get a little defensive and angry. But then I thought that it might be good for us to listen to how we are perceived and to ask ourselves if some of the criticism is justified.
Here is what he said (note that I took notes as quickly as I can type on my phone which isn’t very quick, and so these are anything but full, accurate, quotes. They are essentially Miller’s Paraphrase of Hunt’s tidbits of wisdom)”
First, he described some of the problems that we are facing, then he said,
“Everyone wants to weigh in on what the problem is (he mentioned bloggers as one of these groups). If you want to figure out what the real problem is, look in the mirror.”
Essentially, he was telling us to stop pointing the finger and complaining about everyone else and fix our own hearts. We tend to do that, don’t we? We all realize that there is a problem in the SBC – statistics demonstrate that. It is easy to point the finger and blame “those other guys.”
Then, he said something to the effect that we ought to stop talking about ministry and blogging about ministry and begin doing ministry.
Of course, that stings a little, and I think it’s unfair. For me, at least, writing is part of my ministry and not a diversion from it. But maybe one of the reasons that stings is because I know there is some truth in what he says. The time I spend writing and commenting is time I’m not praying and witnessing and such things. While it may be unfair criticism, it is not wholly without merit, is it?
I have to admit, I am tired of everyone bashing bloggers. But here’s the thing, until we who are bloggers raise our game we cannot expect anything much different than that kind of response. I think it is a little bit unfair the way we are treated by the powerful and influential among Southern Baptists, but haven’t we created our own image?
- Maybe if we stopped being nitpickers and scandalmongers, people would stop accusing us of being such.
- Maybe if we stopped sowing discord, people would stop accusing us of sowing discord.
- Maybe if we stopped being schismatic and engaging in divisive rhetoric, they would stop accusing us of doing so.
- Maybe if we started ignoring those bloggers who seem to revel in mud-slinging, derogation and insinuation, we would stop being defined by those negative extremes.
I think there is a legitimate place for blogging in the Baptist world. Criticizing the religious establishment is not rebellion or disloyalty. It is an important act of accountability. But it has to be done from a proper place, a place of love, encouragement and edification. And let’s face it, it often isn’t.
I think we can do better. We can demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh. We can guard our words so that even when we criticize, it is in a spirit of love. We can ignore those who seem to enjoy getting down in the mud. We do not have to be what we have been.
I am still working through all of this. I understand that people do not like to be criticized and that some leaders will always resent those who call them to account for their actions. We will always receive unfair criticism. Our job is to make sure that it is, in fact, unfair.