The best birthday card I got this summer had a wonderful image on the front. The image had Jesus trying to feed the 5000 but a few nay-sayers in the crowd wouldn’t have any of it.
The inside caption read “Avoid complainers and have a great birthday.” Thanks Mrs. Sherry. This was a perfect card for me.
We live in a world where even the miracles of Jesus, such as feeding the 5000, would be scrutinized, questioned and scorned by people because of their personal preference and desires.
In all types of ministry leadership, there are going to be people who nay-say everything you do. They say “it costs too much,” “it won’t work,” or the dreaded, “we have never done it that way before.”
In a very real way these individuals believe their sole purpose on the planet is to hold others back. To press their unhappiness onto the whole group. To come across as the wise and prudent, but actually represent the grumpy and stubborn.
I have faced some of these types in my life. But guess what, so did Jesus.
In John 5, we read that immediately after Jesus healed a lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, the ministry nay-sayers of his day began questioning his methods. They completely overlooked that a paralyzed man who had been 38 years on his back was now walking about, and instead focused on how Jesus broke a Sabbath law. The phrase “you can’t win from losin” comes to mind.
True ministry leadership has to rise above the nay-sayers. True Christ-like leaders have to use the nay-saying as fuel to greater communication and vision. You have to take their words of disapproval and use them as incentive that you are on to something good and right. Yet if you linger in their words, you will never do anything for the Lord. You will become stagnant, withdrawn and scared.
Maybe you have experienced ministry nay-sayers in your life. If so, I suggest trying two things in response to them.
1. Thank God for them. It may seem counter-intuitive to praise God for their nay-saying, but their presence might be the assurance you need to know you are onto something God-sized.
2. Make it a challenge. Ask them if they will try something with you. Ask them to agreed to whatever you are proposing for short-time period and if it works, they must be first to admit they were wrong. But if they are right and you are wrong, you must agree to be the first to admit your failure and try something else.
With a handshake and a challenge in place, you might discover the nay-sayers will become your greatest advocate and partner in leadership.