Commentary: Don't let fear of criticism keep you from seeking to please God


When Robert Fulton unveiled his new invention, the steamboat, a host of naysayers gathered on the riverbank yelling, “It'll never start, it’ll never start.” Fulton quieted the crowd when, after a lot of clunking and groaning, the boat began moving down the river. It wasn’t long, however, before his critics joined together and broke the silence, hollering, “It’ll never stop, it’ll never stop.”  

You’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment if you think you can go through life without encountering criticism. In an attempt to feel better about themselves, frustrated people compensate by condemning others, especially in today’s divisive society.  

Someone once said he didn’t know the secret to success, but did know the secret to failure: trying to please everyone. A tragic example of this took place just days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Preaching to the crowd, Christ proclaimed, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32 NASB). In other words, He would soon die on the cross, shedding His precious blood so that our sins would be forgiven. He went on to say, “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light” (John 12:26 NASB). 

Many of those present, even the religious leaders among them, believed Jesus and were ready to follow Him. Sadly, however, they weren’t willing to follow through for fear of being thrown out of the synagogue. Rather ironic, isn’t it? They failed to follow the Bridegroom of the church because they were afraid of being banned from their church. As the Bible says, “They loved the approval of people rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43 NASB ).

As David prepared to take on Goliath, his angry brother Eliab belittled him for leaving his sheep and coming to the battlefield. King Saul told him he was too young. Goliath mocked him, questioning, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks? Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field” (1 Samuel 17:43,44 NASB). Guided by God and ignoring their objections, David slung a single stone into the forehead of the giant, killing him on the spot. 

If you’ve inquired of the Lord and feel strongly about your position, don’t let weak-minded critics get you down. The cold water committee is always going to show up to steal your joy and rob you of your dream. Along with the apostle Paul, proclaim, “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).             

 An old Aesop fable tells about an elderly man and his grandson who came into town on a donkey. The grandfather sat the lad on the donkey until he heard the people object, “Look at that selfish child making that old man walk!” The old man couldn’t take his grandson being criticized, so he had the boy walk while he rode. Soon the people said, “Look at that selfish old man riding and making that poor little boy walk.” So, he climbed off and they both walked. Then the crowd murmured, “Look at those stupid people. They have a donkey and they’re not even using it.” Then they rode together, only to have the onlookers say, “Look at those cruel people abusing that poor animal! They’re going to break his back with that load!” Finally, they walked into town carrying the donkey! 

You’ll know you achieved a breakthrough in your walk with Christ when pleasing God takes precedence over satisfying people. As the Word says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted” (Proverbs 29:25).


Todd Gaddis is a semi-retired minister living in Athens. He continues to serve as an interim pastor and can be reached at