Remember the “Church Lady” from SNL? Comedian Dana Carvey portrayed a Puritanesque churchgoer hosting a made-up talk show called “Church Chat”. Guests on her “show” were exposed to her self-righteous rebukes delivered in a hilariously high and sanctimonious tone of voice. Don’t you wish all personal criticism could be that funny! When someone points out to me an area in my life they’ve noticed I could improve in, I have a choice. So do you. Here’s the choice: WILL WE BE MOLDED OR SCOLDED? 




As a leader I’m accustomed to receiving my share of criticism. What leader isn’t? I wish I could say that the older I get the less it hurts. But I can’t. For me, it always hurts. Emotionally, I mean.  I’m very sensitive; it’s my blessing and curse. My sensitivity enables me to profoundly connect with other people in positive ways but it also makes me vulnerable to deep psychological cuts and bruises. I’ve realized a raw reality about my leadership: How I choose to interpret criticism will determine whether I will merely GO through the pain or GROW through the pain. Either way, for me at least, it’s going to be painful. It’s just a matter of which attitude I’m going to adopt as I experience it. Most people don’t change when they “see the light”, they change when they “feel the heat”. Have you found that to be true? I have. I’ve learned firsthand the wisdom of the Proverb which says:

“Sometimes It takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” – Proverbs 20:30 (GN)

Pain is motivating! Sitting on a tack gets me moving. When I’m pricked with a criticism, I want to be able to learn and grow from the experience. What about you? How well do you take criticism? Do you see it more as a time of molding or scolding; growth or grief? For example…

  • When your boss gives you an unfavorable performance review at work…
  • When your spouse points out how you could have handled that situation better…
  • When your child tells you’re not listening to them…
  • When your friend works up the courage to confront you about the unfair way you’re treating him/her…

Yes, these moments are painful…but to borrow a phrase from my fellow North Carolinian, John Cougar Mellencamp, can’t we “make it hurt so good”?

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” – Proverbs 27:6a (NKJV)

Criticism can be painful AND helpful. Just because criticism is unenjoyable doesn’t mean it’s disloyal. Especially if the person giving it to you is a friend.

Criticism becomes helpful when you become teachable. (tweet that)

Below I’ve listed some questions to ask yourself whenever you’re processing criticism leveled against you. I drew 5 of the 6 questions from Blaine Lee’s marvelous book The Power Principle. Next time you’re criticized ask yourself these questions to develop your teachability:

  1. Who is the source?
  2. What might I learn if I listen to them?
  3. Am I willing to learn from their criticism?
  4. Am I really listening?
  5. What can they teach me?
  6. Is there another way to look at things?

You can, if you choose, let criticism make you a better person.



Russell Crowe as Noah
Russell Crowe as Noah

But Noah (Russell Crowe) found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Can we start there?  With God’s grace?  Can we begin a review of this movie applying Jesus’ prayer from the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”?


I saw the movie ‘Noah’ last night.  I was impressed by the breadth and scale of the director’s vision.  Of course, it was of “Biblical Proportions”:)

For example, nature’s full glory and fury rise in the form of fortress-like walls and waves of water.  “Death by water” Noah’s character quips during one scene in the movie.  The landscapes were breathtaking, reminding me of “Scottish”‘ green pastures and high mountain cliffs.  The wardrobe choices were “cool”.  I expected robes.  They wore pants:) My friend said, “It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Rings'”.  I said, “Yeah, it’s like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Lord of the Rings!”.  We laughed.  Me a little more as I recalled Johnny Depp’s make up and costume as Captain Jack Sparrow.


But then, the movie got weird, and I was reminded that what I was watching wasn’t really God’s story as told in The Bible, but a different story; one being brought to life by Oscar Winning actors and actresses accompanied by enchanting music scores. Entertaining, yes!  But then there’s those nagging…what do we call them…facts.  Thank you, Columbo!

“Director Darren Aronofsky called his movie “the least biblical film ever made,” The Telegraph reported. He also claimed his leading character, Noah, was the “first environmentalist,” something that suggests the movie storyline doesn’t exactly follow the Bible’s.”

Because there are so many factual discrepancies in the movie itself (Both my friend and I agreed the storyline veered off into a manufactured direction) perhaps the best question is, “In what ways does the movie agree with the Biblical story in Genesis?”.  Honestly, only a few.

For instance, they did keep the main character’s name the same:)  God is involved (He’s called ‘The Creator’ in this movie), though His name is never actually spoken once. Then again, neither is God’s name mentioned in the Book of Esther in the Bible, but you certainly know He’s present in the story!  Not a big deal.  But then there was that bit about how God’s character is portrayed: as merciless and unfeeling.

I noticed that God’s motives for why He initiates the flood are misrepresented. For example, in the Bible God sends the flood because of the depth and incorrigibility of mankind’s sin.  Specifically implied in the Biblical story is that violence (Murder, Torture, Inhumane Treatment of People, Child Sacrifice and Cannibalism) and sexual immorality (Rape, Adultery, Homosexuality and Fornication) are the primary impetus for God’s wrath.

In the movie, however, God is seen as destroying people because they refuse to care for the earth or happen to be a meat-eater.  As a matter of fact, my friend said, “I felt more offended as a meat-eater than a Christian. It was like an assault on my diet!”


Viewing the movie prompted me to consider that each of us “lives within a story”. What we see when we look at the world of people and objects around us depends to a great degree on what we think and believe within us.  In other words, what I find when I look at the world is what I’ve told myself is there to see.  This becomes my story; my own personal version of reality.

Telling myself “the true story” not just “my story” is vital to faith.  Just because God first relayed the facts of creation through a book and not on an ipad does not call into question it’s reliability. The Bible may tell us “the old, old story” but it remains historically accurate, poignant and timely for 21st century conditions today.  Objective reality does exist even if I refuse to acknowledge it.  The sun will “rise and shine” whether I choose to look at it or not!


In the late 1980’s, Bono used to say at U2 concerts, “God is good. He gave us Hollywood.”  Hmm, did he?  Well, I think it’s more like God gave us stories and we built Babel with it; our own monument to ourselves.  God invented it, we just branded it.  We shaped it into our own image.

Keep in mind that ‘Noah’ is hollywood.  It’s CGI, green screens and props. It is art, after all, not archeology.  It isn’t science, nor is this movie the work of serious Theologians. It’s cleverly written and creatively imagined but in the end, it’s just a movie; flooded (pun intended:) with fake sets, cool stunts and handsome people convincingly pretending to be somebody they’re not:) Fun to experience; just don’t build your theology on it!