Sometimes I get so discouraged. This shouldn't surprise you if you've been following my blog at all. And it's not just because it is Monday either. My discouragement is timeless. But this is what is getting me down today: we are stuck in a performer/audience mentality in the church. It seems impossible to break. One day a few weeks ago someone told me that I was really deep and intellectual and that I preached way over their heads. The same day someone told me that they weren't learning anything from my teaching. It was too shallow and boring. I conclude that usually compliments and criticisms are two sides of the same coin. I am being judged and scored according to my performance.* Let's say a husband looks at a sexual self-help book with graphic instructional pictures. He loves his wife and they have sex. But in his mind he imagines what he'd like the sex they have to be like. He does everything he can to match his fantasy and constantly pressures her to do this and do that. Afterward, when they are lying next to each other, he says, "Well, that was about a 4 out of 10!" Or another time he smiles and says, "That was definitely a 10!" Guaranteed, sooner or later his wife is going to express her unhappiness. She's being measured. She has expectations placed upon her. She is under the pressure to match a fantasy in his head. It won't work because it is not love. Same with church. If I am constantly being measured, expected to fulfill peoples' fantasy of what a pastor or public speaker should be like, or what a great church should be like, I am going to be unhappy very fast. Same with the people. If I continually give them the impression that they are being scored week to week, that they are components I am trying to properly align to a fantasy I have for them, if they have any sense at all, they will grow unhappy too. The whole paradigm needs to be tossed. Criticism and flattery are two sides of the same coin. Didn't Luther say that if you put two lovers in a bedroom alone, they won't have to be told what to do. They'll figure it out. If we learned how to love each other, first and foremost, we'll figure it out. And it will be completely outside the scoring paradigm. *I admit this isn't always the case. Sometimes someone criticizes what I said because they really disagree with it. Or someone thanks me for what I said because they realized something new. They really learned something. This is a different thing altogether.