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Kill The Critic

Kill The Critic

By Sean Hill on October 07, 2014

Many years ago I was sick with a disease, a disease that was highly contagious, infecting person after person after person around me. The symptoms were toxic to everyone, but the nature of the disease made me want to share it with everyone. Ultimately, as I infected everyone I came in contact with, I had convinced myself that I was doing everyone a favor in sharing it. Oh, the disease you ask? Criticism.  

I was sick with the disease of criticizing the worship songs the Church embraced. From the songwriting, to the musician’s choice of tones, to the production ideas, through the mixing, it was all under fire on my gun range. I was ready to pull the trigger and shoot holes in any and every part of the whole thing, and I had plenty of friends on the gun range with me ready to take aim.

We would affix a target on a song and fire off shots together, “I know how to do this better. This song is terrible. This guitar hook is lame. This piano hook is stupid. Worship music sucks. Why do people like this song? If I wrote it, I would re-write that bridge. That melody is unoriginal. These lyrics are trite and awful.” And so on and so forth. Shot after shot after shot.  All while congregations were worshipping God week after week with it.

What scares me is not the fact that criticism is a darkness hiding in many greenrooms, it’s the fact that standing on the stage of many churches are people who lead the Bride of Christ in worship from this mindset. The mindset that worship music is a big joke. That worship music is shallow, that the people who like it are musical idiots, or that the people who make it are untalented. That the way it’s written is uncreative. And ultimately that they believe they know how to do it better. No humility, no respect, just pride in all of its self-assumed glory.

“How can you make such a statement, Sean? How can you say there are people leading us that have this attitude?”  

Why? BECAUSE I’VE BEEN THERE. I was probably the worst of them all. I mentioned that sickness earlier…here’s what it actually looked like a lot of times. I was in a weekly habit of rallying troops and ceremonially poking fun at the songs that we were about to lead. Then we would walk right up on stage, a lot of times still chuckling from the last joke, and lead those songs. It was twisted, man. It’s very hard for me to admit that for everyone to read for eternity, but that was me. Sick with criticism. I was unknowingly poisoning every environment I walked into. Ultimately, I was speaking death over the very thing that is life-giving to so many people.

And what scares me most is not that I’ve seen it happen and have regretfully been a part of it, but that it is STILL happening. I STILL breeze through greenrooms and see the disease is alive and well. I hear the jokes and see the snickering. I see pride and it’s ugly face way too often on and off stage.

Friends, this has to end.

So, other than me saying, “stop it” in as many creative ways as I can for the next few paragraphs, I think there are a few key scriptures that give all the insight we need:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  - Proverbs 18:21

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” - Ephesians 4:28

“I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” - Matthew 12:36

Wow and yup.

Every moment your critic remains alive, it is slowly killing you and the people around you. Every moment you sit quietly as people around you begin a feeding frenzy, you are tolerating criticism’s ugly presence. There is so much power in the words we use and in the conversations we are a part of. Will you be a person that is willing to speak life and not death? Will you be willing to build up and not destroy? Will you be willing to encourage, not embarrass?

It’s time to kill the critic. It’s time to lay pride aside. I’m convinced no truly good thing will be birthed from a place of criticism. If we try to “outdo” what’s out there, all that will be evident in the end product is our own pride.

It’s time to go on the offensive and replace your criticism with celebration. Begin to celebrate the landscape of worship music. Celebrate that our generation is leveraging the power of music to help people worship God. Celebrate the life change that occurs when God draws near in times of corporate worship as we draw near to Him.

Ultimately, this conversation can apply to much more than just songs. It can apply to churches, sermons, worship styles, pastors, and even people.

We must choose our words wisely about the Bride of Christ. She is beautiful, and I can’t even fathom the pride it takes to spit on something for which Christ laid down His life.

Can you imagine how the atmosphere around you would change for the better if you chose to be life giving in your words and attitude? Can you imagine how the attitudes of the people around you would be positively affected if you chose to build them up? Can you imagine what would happen if you blazed a trail of infectious encouragement? The possibilities are amazingly exciting.

Let’s kill the critic. Let’s love the Church. Let’s encourage her. Let’s build her up so she can be beautiful for the Wedding Day.

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Sean Hill

Sean Hill (Guest Writer)

Sean is a full-time producer and songwriter in Lawrenceville, GA.