It is not the critic who counts…

“It is not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them 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 short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who actually strives to do the deed, who knows the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

I have the above quote framed and hanging in my office directly in front of my desk. I remember cutting it off something that came in the mail years ago and having it matted and framed. This exemplifies how much this quote means to me. To be honest, I am a fan of quotations. But some really stick with you more than others. For me, this is one of those.

I guess we could call them Monday morning quarterbacks. Always second guessing the decisions of others. “Well if it had been me I would have done it this way.” No you wouldn’t. Because it probably could have been you but you chose to sit on the sidelines and watch while others took the risk. You are one of the timid and cold souls.

Read the account of Gideon in the book of Judges Chapter 7. And pay particular attention to verse 17:

And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do.”

Gideon was not one to sit on the sidelines. You do as I do. If he made a mistake it was going to be because he was out front leading. His face was marred by dust, and sweat, and blood. He would not be found sitting on the fence.

Consider the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:9

Note the verbs involved: learned, received, heard, and saw. He says you follow my example; you do.

When I was growing up I remember an adult in my life who would commonly say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Even as a child I knew that was a flawed logic.

I also remember reading once that one could pull a rope but you couldn’t push it. Lead me by example please. I don’t need you to tell me how it is done. Show me please. Give me an example. Don’t push me, get out front and lead me, pull me.

I must say I have been very fortunate in my life. I have had many mentors who showed me the way. I will be forever grateful.

And now I am in the stage of life that I need to be doing the leading. That doesn’t mean I don’t still need an example as well. But when I have the opportunity, I want my face to be marred with dust, and sweat, and blood. It is not the critic who counts…

In whatever position you are in life, choose your mentors wisely. If you are a young parent, model yourself after those who have successfully navigated those waters before you. If you are struggling with your spiritual walk, climbing the career ladder, facing illness, entering the twilight years, experiencing midlife crises, etc., find a mentor to whom you can look. They don’t even have to know about it. You just need the example to follow.

I remember my Teresa saying many times that when our children were growing up she looked for examples to follow. She looked for those women whose children were well behaved and well adjusted. She drew on their example. And more times than not, they did not realize they were being models to a younger couple raising two boys.

No, it is not the critic who counts. Everyone can criticize! In fact that is very easy to do.

I can tell you who counts. It is the one doing the doing. The one modeling the behavior. The one showing the way it is done. The one in the arena! The one whose face is marred with dust, and sweat, and blood. Just do as I do…

For each of these mentors in my past, I thank you.

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