As I mentioned previously in a post I along with several other adult leaders took some senior high youth from our church on a recent mission trip to Taylorsville, NC with the christian organization YouthWorks. It was a great trip as there were many wonderful things that were done in the community. Homes were repaired, yards cleaned, ministries helped, lives touched all in the matter of a week. That was the great part of the trip but there was also some frustrating parts on the trip as well. As I said in my previous post it was very hot (usually in the 100’s with the heat index) this compiled with working outside, non-stop meetings, sleeping on air mattresses, taking showers in a local middle school can add tension to any group. Our group was no exception there were times when people would work extremely hard, do whatever needed to be done to help the team, even if it was not easy or comfortable. There were also times when people complained about the silliest things…who took a longer shower, who got to ride where in the van, what group got icecream first, what music was played in the van, what room people slept in…and the list could go on but I would prefer to block them from my memory 😉 There were also times when people chose not to work when others were working very hard and this can test anyone’s patience including mine.
Today I ran across this wonderful quote from Ben Franklin which says, “”Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” I think when we go on mission trips with kids, teens, or adults it can be very easy for us to criticize those in charge “Why are they doing it that way?” “If I was in charge that is not how I would lead!” “They are doing a bad job the leaders last year were much better!”, or to condemn “I don’t like how they teach…I don’t think they are a very good Christian.” or just complain, “Ugh..why do I have to go do that?!” “That’s not how we did it last year!” but when we do this what good is it bringing? How is this helping the situation? One of my favorite quotes that I try to remember on a regular basis is from Pastor Mark Batterson (Pastor of National Community Church and author of numerous books such as Wild Goose Chase and Primal) when He challenges people to “Criticize by Creating”. I think this is a good challenge for all of us because it is so easy for us to criticize, condemn, or complain when something is out of the norm for us, when we are in a tough situation, or when people might not do something exactly the same way we are use to. It is during those times that we can either tear down those in charge, cross our arms, and complain…or we can criticize by creating, step out of our comfort zone, un-cross our arms, lay down our judgments and do what we can to make it a better situation.
Really the choice is up to us. Which do you find yourself doing more? Criticizing or Creating?