criticizing a critical spirit - a.k.a. #RickWarrentips

Today I saw an interesting trend on "the Twitter" - a hashtag for #RickWarrenTips. This clickable link was full of minute-by-minute ribbing of Rick Warren, a noted pastor and author.

Because, you know... that's helpful.

While it was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, perhaps there's more to it than that if you think about the ripples. My sense is it all started when he posted this:

"New churches: Buy land as soon as you can but
delay building for as long as you can.

Can't explain a the reasons here." - Rick Warren

Admittedly, Warren created a limited post. In fact, content like this made me initially put off using "the Twitter" because I didn't like the idea of trying to cram a complete thought into 140 characters... there are times more needs to be said. However, I have in the past two years found a purpose for using "the Twitter" and now try to use even its limitations to hone my limited writing skills.

(Notice how I still call it "the Twitter.")

Today when I saw the Rick Warren topic trending, I wrote:
"#RickWarrentips (Watching this trend. After 3 weeks of being ripped on by people myself, I am unable to contribute. Please starve this one.)"
There are undoubtedly many opinions about Rick Warren. While some would argue he's a solid guy, others would say he's not solid enough. Have fun debating that one and let me know who wins.

What I would offer is when we jab at a minister, we jab at the culture of ministry altogether. After all, the more we make someone a caricature, the less we have to give valid credit to how they're trying to grow our character. And the less we value what comes through a person of God, the less we value hearing God speak to us.

Maybe no one has thought that far ahead yet.

The upside? Rick Warren proved his integrity by jumping in on the ribbing himself, using the very hashtag that prompted it. Perhaps we'll celebrate that... or perhaps he's like that kid who was given a nickname he didn't ask for and would rather laugh among his peers than say "Ouch." Either way, I appreciate and respect his spirit.

Meanwhile, one more observation...

It's odd how you and I insist that everyone else remember we're real people with real feelings... that they just need to give us grace for our shortcomings. Yet we seem to have no problem commenting on the perceived gaps we see in others.

P.S. Note the word "perceived."

P.P.S. Close your eyes and imagine a group of people commenting on you with all the unfair, negative perceptions they've formed about you. Get deep into those negative feelings. Now open your eyes and bring your best self to live differently in how you talk about others in public and in private.
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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