Pastor Dan Jongsma
Once upon a time there was a group of tiny frogs who arranged a running, or more accurately, a hopping competition. The goal was to see how many could reach the top of a very high cliff. A large crowd of woodland creatures gathered around to see the race unfold and to cheer on the contestants.
But in all honesty, few in the crowd actually believed that the tiny frogs could reach the top of the mighty cliff. It didn’t take long for the initial cheers to turn into berating jeers as the contestants began hearing things like: "That’s way too steep a climb for them!" "They’ll never make it all the way to the top." "Not a chance in the world they’ll succeed!"
As the terrain steepened and the negative talk deepened, the group of frogs got deflated, grew tired and began collapsing one by one. Soon there were only a few left hopping. But even they eventually succumbed to the challenging course. All except for one frog who continued to climb higher and higher. This one wouldn't give up, eventually reaching the top!
When the victorious frog returned to the base, everyone wanted to know how he managed to make it to the summit? In response to the deluge of questions coming his way, the tiny frog remained silent. It was then that everyone discovered that the winner was DEAF!
Here’s the point of this little fable: Learn to turn a deaf ear to naysayers. In our world today, critics are a dime a dozen. Many seem to take fiendish delight in letting you know what you have done wrong or where you can improve next time. The default mode of many people is to be a critical faultfinder.
Sometimes these dream-squashers have good intentions. They love you and don’t want to see you get hurt by chasing after, what they consider to be, foolish dreams. Other times, people are simply insecure in themselves and really don’t want to see you succeed. They think your success would make them look bad, so they try to pull you down to their level of mediocrity.
All this negative talk by naysayers and dream-squashers can do a number on us. That is because there is power in the spoken word – power for good or ill. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, "The tongue has the power of life and death." In over thirty years of ministry, I’ve heard my share of, “It can’t be done. It’s too risky. It’s too expensive. The goal is too unrealistic. That program will never succeed.” Often these comments are uttered by well-meaning church members. But the net effect of these types of comments is to keep a church from moving forward toward its God-honoring mission. Like the fable of the frogs, one-by-one people give up, drop out, or settle for something less than God’s best for them. They give up on their God-given dreams too soon.
Now there are times when we need to listen to wise counselors. But there are also times when we need to turn a deaf ear toward those who are telling us not to pursue a long-standing, deeply-held dream – especially if that dream involves expanding God’s work here on earth. We need to remind ourselves of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26,
“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with Him."
One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt. Over the years, it has helped inspire me to do my very best in pursuing a worthy cause (Christ’s Kingdom) – despite the presence of critics and naysayers.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Let those words inspire you to try something outrageous for God this week!