Job Description- Church Watch Dog
December 3 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Several years ago a group of undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin, skilled in writing, formed a club called “The Stranglers.” At each meeting a member would read a story or essay he had written.  The others literally tore it to pieces. No holds were barred.

Another club at the same school, consisting of young ladies, called themselves “The Wranglers.” They, too, read manuscripts aloud to one another. But their criticism was constructive in nature. They looked for strong points as well as weak ones. Every effort, however feeble, was encouraged.

Twenty years later an alumnus of the university studied the careers of the members of both clubs. Of the bright young talents in “The Stranglers” not one had achieved journalistic success. However, there were several successful writers who had been members of “The Wranglers,” including Marjorie K. Rawlings, author of The Yearling.”

The ultimate goal of both clubs was that their members become successful writers. One club succeeded in achieving that goal, but the other failed. Why the difference? One majored on criticism, the other majored on encouragement.

Who among us cannot remember those persons along the way who offered us encouragement? We remember and appreciate those who encouraged us by saying, “You can do it! I believe in you!” There is something about expressing confidence in a person’s ability that actually strengthens that ability. We also remember those persons who were caustic and critical.

That is why our willingness to encourage others, to expect the best from them, to wish them success, is extremely important. This is especially true in our homes. Children who often hear a parent say “You will never amount to anything!” face an uphill struggle in life. They often become part of our prison population.

Another place where encouragement is greatly needed, but often found in short supply, is the church. How quick many church members are to criticize other believers. How prone they are to detect the “mote” in a fellow church member’s eye, while overlooking the “beam” in their own eye.

Most churches have at least one watchdog — some have a lot more. Watchdogs keep their eyes on others and growl. They are always the first to hear of something wrong. They are self-appointed detectives. They see clearly the faults of others, and are more than willing to tell others about them, but ignore their own faults.

I am reminded of a man in Sicily who fell asleep on the sofa. His mischievous son rubbed a piece of limburger cheese across his mustache and quickly left the room. When the man awoke he sniffed the air and said, “Something in this room is rotten.”

He walked through other rooms, sniffed again, and said, “This whole house is rotten!” Walking out into the yard he sniffed again and said, “The whole world is rotten! It was not the world that was not rotten. The problem was under his nose!

Does your church have any self-appointed watchdogs? If so, should you ever catch them asleep in church, rub some limburger cheese under their nose.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)  
12/3/2010 5:08:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 5 comments

Incredibly enlightening many thanks, I presume your current subscribers may want further posts along these lines continue the excellent work.
12/23/2010 12:44:26 PM

John Johnson
In the day we live in we certainly need more encouragement, more uplift from one another and less analysis about one another. Thanks for the good word.
12/7/2010 12:01:42 PM

Gene Scarborough
Wow---one of the real "old timers!"

Some of the ones I know are Bill Self / Prentice Fox / Al Ayscue.

Did you ever hear the story of the smart upper classmen who put up a note to see (I forget which one) for their discount downtown certificates? Those freshmen stepped into a buzz saw from the Prof who hated ministerial discounts and seeking favors!

I also heard the great story of how Dr. Scoggins went to the speaking in tongues revival meeting outside town and rendered Psalm 23 in Hebrew. The preacher congratulated him for his marvelous gift of tongues and Scoggins congratulated him on the interesting interpretation of Psalm 23.

Wasn't it great to have been there when a sense of humor prevailed!!!!!
12/5/2010 9:55:51 AM

Del Parkerson
Gene, I enrolled at Southeastern Seminary in the 1953 fall session. I ushered in the first two graduating classes (1954 & 1955)and graduated in the third (1956), and did my Th.M. work under Dr. Stewart Newman the following year (1957). My homiletics teacher was Dr. M. Ray McKay. We were required to preach a sermon in class, which was held in the Wake Forest Baptist Church.

I was at Southeastern long before Dr. Carlton's tenure, but I like his teaching approach very much. Encouragement beats caustic criticism every time. Those who CAN do: those who CAN'T criticize. I learned early in life that you can always spot a failure by the way he (or she) criticizes those who are successful.
12/4/2010 11:06:21 AM

Gene Scarborough

You, perhaps, had John Carlton for our preaching course at SEBTS in 1970. I shall never forget his approach. First, he forbade destructive criticism by any of us when the trial sermon was completed. His first question was: [b]"What do you see good in this sermon?"[/b]

He also met with the student and his spouse in private to view the videotape of the sermon and asked her for input since she would be listening for years to come.

Dr. Carlton's approach helped our group to produce good preachers rather than those with crushed egos in the very beginning.

I had a lady once who accused me of preaching the same sermons because she notated the date I used a scripture in her Bible. When I told her I had several sermons on the same important scripture, she still wanted to be my watchdog. Watchdogs aren't helpful. They make you watch your back side since they seldom approach you from the front!
12/4/2010 9:31:51 AM