The Rev. Dr. Calvin G. Sampson, my closest mentor in the Gospel ministry, shared a piece of advice with me a few years ago. It was passed on to him by Gardner C. Taylor, a man who is to modern preaching what Frank Sinatra is to modern music. Who knows where Rev. Taylor got this piece of wisdom? Maybe it was passed on by some wizened black pastor who was born in slavery, or maybe experience was his teacher.
At any rate, the advice is not to care about what other people think about you. If you’ve ever been insulted or felt inferior in the company of others, you know how difficult this can be.
As tough as it is not to let others’ negative comments deflate your spirit, it is even more difficult not to let their praise overly inflate your ego. Preachers and pastors get more than their share of compliments, admiration, and special treatment. In the midst of all that adulation, it’s important for anyone not to get too gassed, not to get a big head. So you said something they liked today, they tell you they love you, and you feel fulfilled. Next week, when you say something that hits too close to home and they tell you they don’t like it, then what?
The masses of people are on an emotional roller-coaster that they can’t or won’t control. Have you ever said to a loved one, “You’re wearing that?” and virtually ruined her whole day without even trying? Or have you ever told a guy his sweater made him look muscular and watched him walk around the rest of the day with his chest poked out? This is human nature because we tend to care about what others think, do, and say about us.
If people have the power to make you feel important, they have equal power to make you feel worthless.
A successful person doesn’t get too happy about a fan club or too depressed about detractors. Successful people just do what they do. Successful people by definition overcome obstacles, and one of the greatest obstacles to overcome is the feeling that you’re not good enough for a given place and time. We look to others for validation, but those other people are just expressing opinions; opinions that change like the weather. Feel free to express your opinion, because at my best, I don’t care what you think.