I've been thinking about people a lot these last five or so weeks. That's not uncommon for many people, I'm sure. People are all around us and often make our best and worst days what they are. That's no secret. But does that have to be the case?
People are important, no doubt, but should they be central to our feelings of happiness and worth? It seems like too many times we let them be. At least, I let them be. So, this realization has got me thinking: What does Jesus mean when He says "Who is my mother and my brothers?" (Matthew 12:46-50)
Jesus is preaching to crowd and his mother and brothers come up to speak with him. He, presumably, ignores them by replying “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Then pointing to his disciples and proclaiming them as his mother and brothers because they do the will of His Father in heaven.
Over the last four years, I have been thinking more and more about who's criticism I allow to affect me. I have been interested and involved in charity work at various levels for the last 8 or 9 years. People are often critical of charity work and with good reason. I've been involved with my church and my faith at large for the last 10 or so years--people are very critical of Christianity and with good reason. At different points I've allowed these criticisms to have a negative effect on my service and my Christianity, yet I have often forgot to ask "Who are my mother and brothers?"
Charity is not above criticism. And Lord knows, Christianity isn't either. Yet, a good number of people criticize both charity and Christianity as an excuse to either not get involved with either or to try to persuade others to stop "wasting their time with both." When that is the end goal of the criticism, it does not help me.
However, when criticism comes from those around me that are critical of Christianity or charity because they want to see either of those endeavours proceeding in the best way possible, something is to be learned from that. That's not to say we should out and out ignore the negative critiques around us, but we should learn to listen most carefully to the critiques of those that wish to see us succeed.
And this goes beyond charity or Christianity, those are just two examples I deem relevant to this blog and to my life. But you can ask "who is my mother and who are my brothers" in all manner of situations. Last year, I returned to my high school and gave a motivation talk to four biology classes. One of my key messages was this, surround yourself with people that want to do the same things as you. Successful people make a habit of surrounding themselves with people that share the same goals as them. Happy people are friends with happy people. Basketball players hang out with basketball players. CEOs have cocktails with CEOs. Etc. . .
As you go through this week, ask yourself "Who are my mother and brothers?" Who are the people in your life that are pushing you towards your goals in life? Because those are the people who's criticism you should consider the most.