For years, I have sought to be a part of a church; I’ve tried to be more than just another person sitting in a pew. Over the years, my wife and I have led parenting groups and teen groups. We have also been participants in multiple congregations and social groups, both Christian and non-Christian. With this, I have always held myself to a higher standard. Recently, I discovered that I needed to hear some honesty from my family and children. I needed to know how to handle criticism and improve. In my studies, I have come across the following scripture:

Testing Myself

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.”1 Timothy 3:1-10

Some of my stepping down had to do with the scripture above. I’ve stepped out of some ministries to ensure that I could better look after my family to ensure I could be there to teach and direct them. I’ve stepped aside from some due to personal struggles being revealed to me, like addiction to pornography. In turn, those addictions revealed other struggles with anger and self-worth. I was “testing myself” to see if I was fit for the role I was asked to fill.

How to Handle Criticism and To Ask For It

I have not stepped up to much in the last two-three years as I dealt with things on the list I did not see myself achieving. The previous week I decided to “test” myself differently. I took the scripture listed above and read it as a devotional scripture to my family. Following that, I shared with them I seek to be an overseer but did not find I was enough for it. I explained that this is also the standard I want to live up to whether I have a church role or not.

So I asked them to go through the list one by one, asking them how they thought I was doing with these items.

My prayer in this was to help me see myself in their eyes instead of my self-critical eyes. This prayer allowed my children to say I have been inconsistent in my discipline with them, making it harder to be obedient. Sometimes we need that gut check from our children or wife. Sometimes you’ll find you’re overly critical of yourself, and other times you’ll find that you’re not living up to the standard you should be as a husband and father. Start with understanding how to handle criticism and then ask for it from your family. You need the honesty.


Mark Ryan

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