As I mentioned in my introductory column a few weeks back, I received an associate’s degree in information management and design during my college days. Not to brag, but during those two years I made all A’s in each class involved with that program.
I designed different things like flyers, logos, business cards, greeting cards, invitations and a couple websites for my classes, and always received high marks and compliments from my instructors.
Through my experience with classwork and freelance work, I even got the opportunity to design a billboard that stood in various locations around the city of Lexington.
From that time period however, the only feedback I can remember word-for-word was the time when I received some pretty harsh criticism.
During my last semester of the design program, every student had to complete an internship. So I basically sent an email to any business in Lexington that was involved with design.
After several emails sent, I finally got a call back from a man who owned his own firm designing websites. He said he couldn’t offer me any money but he would love to meet with me and teach me the tricks of the trade. I happily agreed and met with him later that week.
When it came time for the interview, he basically offered me the internship right on the spot. But it was something he said during the interview that rubbed me the wrong way.
After he glanced at the portfolio I had prepared showcasing some of my best design work, his response was “Brad, you’re never going to be a great designer. But I can mold you into a pretty good designer.”
I went ahead and started helping him with a project that very day until I had to leave for my regular job. But I just couldn’t get over what he said, and just his attitude in general.
So I called him back the next day and told him I wasn’t going to return. Thankfully my mother had a co-worker who needed an assistant for my type of work so I was able to find another internship.
But for the next couple weeks, all I did was gripe and complain about what that man had said to me. I had forgotten all about the good grades I received in class and the compliments I had received on projects. All I could focus on was the one negative comment someone had to say about me and my work.
But one day as I was complaining about all this to one of my friends in class, another classmate turned around and said, “Brad, that’s just one person’s opinion.”
That statement was only composed of a few words, but it has had a lasting impact — not just in my work, but in life in general.
How often do we hear nice things from the people around us, but only remember when someone has something bad to say?
Let’s say you and the family did some decorating or landscaping around the house. Your neighbors all along the block may come around and tell you how nice it all looks. Then one person could come by and tell you something looks awful. Which comment is going to stand out more to you? All the compliments or the one complaint?
This certainly applies to our Christian walk as well.
Just as I learned to not let one person’s opinion stop me from being a designer, we should not let the Devil keep us from doing God’s work.
If you have been called to preach, you will encounter many people tell you, “Great sermon, Preacher. I really enjoyed it.”
But every now and then, you will have someone tell you, “I don’t like what you preached about today. That’s not what I believe.”
Or maybe you have been called to sing. Many folks may tell you they absolutely love hearing you perform. And then someone may come asking you to give them money for a new mirror because your singing just broke their old one.
When we hear these negative words from our peers, it sometimes gets so discouraging we just take the easy way out and give up. We listen to the evil more than the good and decide we are better off sitting at home on our couch instead of doing what God has called us to do.
But Ephesians 6:12-13 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
The bottom line is if God wants you to do a job for him, you need to get there and do it. The Devil will use different people and different obstacles to discourage you, but you have to block all that out and focus solely on what the Lord has to say.
Brad Hall is the nighttime editor for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org