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Lifeway breakfast helps leaders respond to inner critic

Ben and Lynley Mandrell spoke with Jennifer and Phil Rothschild for a live recording of the “Glass House” podcast at the 2023 Lifeway Breakfast on Tuesday morning, June 13 during the 2023 Southern Baptist Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The conversation focused on how ministry leaders can replace the voice of their inner critic with the truth of God’s word. Photo by Aaron Earls

NEW ORLEANS, La. (BP) — Many ministry leaders are known for their oratory skills and ability to communicate. Underneath the smooth, audible delivery, however, hides a silent but powerful inner critic leaders wrestle daily.

An episode of “The Glass House” podcast, recorded live at a breakfast hosted by Lifeway Christian Resources June 13, featured a conversation on the topic of speaking truth to this inner narrator. Lifeway President and CEO Ben Mandrell, his wife, Lynley, and special guests Jennifer and Phil Rothschild recorded the podcast in the room with more than 600 breakfast attendees.

Messengers and guests helped themselves to an early morning buffet at the 2023 Lifeway Breakfast on Tuesday, June 13, during the 2023 Southern Baptist Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Photo by Aaron Earls

Jennifer Rothschild is the author of the book and Bible study “Me, Myself, and Lies.” Both resources shed light on how Christians can replace inwardly-generated lies with biblical truth about one’s identity.

“Our brains are hard-wired for comparison, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Rothschild. “Social-comparison theory says we’re driven to compare because it helps us with self-evaluation and self-enhancement. Comparison can keep us on track, but it can also get us off track when we invite an inner critic into our lives and allow it to dominate our thinking.”

Rothschild gave examples of a pastor feeling shame that his church does not have as many baptisms as another church in the community and a pastor’s wife lamenting that her kids aren’t having structured times of devotion like she assumes other families are experiencing. These comparisons and the inward shame that can accompany them are often compounded by a society that values curated social media posts and external signs of influence. For this reason, Rothschild said Christian leaders should be careful not to drift into unnecessary comparisons formed on half-truths at best and, at worst, outright lies.

“We don’t always recognize the habit of destructive self-talk because it’s become normal for us. But it’s like cancer slowly eating away at our wellness,” she said. “We need to study, scripturally, how to speak truth to our souls.”

Being charitable to yourself and others

The Rothchilds recalled how early in their marriage, they cut the entry for divorce out of their family dictionary as a sign this word would not be part of their vocabulary. Likewise, Christians need to identify the go-to, destructive words their inner critic likes to use and ban those terms and phrases from self-reflection, said Jennifer. She provided examples such as, “You always do this,” “You never do that,” and “You’re such an idiot.”

The Mandrells noted the way Christians speak to themselves through an inner critic. Words can flow from constructive or destructive ways in how they speak to others – especially those closest to them like a spouse or children. Ben Mandrell encouraged listeners to make charitable assumptions of others in imitating Christ, who was full of grace and truth.

The Mandrells and Rothchilds concluded the breakfast with a Q&A with attendees. They answered questions such as:

  • How do you maintain balance in ministry?
  • What’s been your greatest challenge in ministry?
  • Can you share some wisdom on parenting adult children?

The last question – “What is the best advice you’ve been given in ministry?” – appropriately bookended the discussion on grace and truth as all four responses dealt with being charitable toward others:

  • Ben: “People want to work with you, not for you. This truth has helped me overcome the success addiction.”
  • Lynley: “Speak well of people, and you need never whisper.”
  • Phil: “Christians are always called to forgive when they experience conflict with another person. Why not do it sooner than later?”
  • Jennifer: “I’ve learned to be patient with myself, patient with others, and patient with God.”

The full episode of “The Glass House” podcast recorded at the Lifeway Breakfast will be available soon anywhere podcasts are available.

Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.