by Mike Grushon
One of the persistent problems young people must overcome is criticism from adults. Paul exhorted Timothy to conduct himself in such a way that he would give no one a basis of truth for such criticism (I Timothy 4:12). Unfortunately, some choose to criticize the young even if they do not provide ample fuel for the critic’s fires. This is especially so when young people happen to be actively involved in the Lord’s service.
This short article is directed to young people who are trying to use their talents to serve God and proclaim Christ. Our intention is to encourage you not to let the criticism of others deter you from active service. All Christians have an equal responsibility to use their talents to teach the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:19-20). Do not allow anyone to deter you as a young Christian from fulfilling your responsibility.
The criticism young people receive is one of two classes. It is either deserved or undeserved. Regardless of the type of criticism you receive, you should not allow it to keep you from serving God. If you acted in such a way that you deserved the criticism, you should make the necessary correction, and press on in your service to God. If you were the subject of criticism that you did not deserve, or of that which proceeded from an improper motive, pay it no need, simply continue to do what you know is right.
In dealing with criticism, it helps to try to understand the reason the criticism has been offered. Some people offer criticism out of a genuine concern for your spiritual well-being. It is usually not difficult who such people are. Their attitude and the manner in which they criticize make them easy to spot. Young people should have no problem getting along with such people. No matter how sharp their criticism may be, you know they are really interested in you.
However, what about the others? I am convinced that some of the criticism leveled against young people who are actively serving the Lord are outright attempts to discourage such activity. When young people show more zeal than the adults of a church, the adults are only left with a few alternatives. They can either
- allow the young people’s zealous efforts to continue and suffer the embarrassment of their own inactivity, or
- they can follow the young people’s activity and become energetic themselves, or
- they can try to squelch the young people’s zeal and try to salve their consciences by removing the constant reminder of what they ought to be doing themselves.
When older members of the church discourage teenagers from doing personal work, visiting meetings, making notes on sermons, etc., I find it hard to believe that they have not selected the third option.
Young people, I am not saying that you should not pay attention to the criticisms made by older Christians. Constructive criticism offered by mature and understanding saints should make your talents even more useful to the cause of Christ. What I am saying is that should not allow the unjust criticism of lazy Christians to hinder or prevent you from doing what you know you should be doing! Be a faithful and active Christian regardless of what others, young or old, may say about you. Look to the faithful Christians that you may know, whether preachers, elders, or teachers. They are often the objects of severe criticism, yet it has not stopped them. Paul was criticized by some of the Corinthians, yet they could not keep him from doing what he knew needed to be done. Do what you know you can do in God’s service.