Cheers to the Doer!

         Hey Ladies, It’s Melissa! Have I mentioned how amazing you all were in giving so many tips for my budget? I will report more about this soon!  For now, I came across this lengthy quote by Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth American President, and for some reason it brought tears to my eyes.  There is a good chance you have already heard it or read it but I think it is worth reading multiple times.  It goes like this:

          “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done 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 up short again and again, because there is no effort without effort or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with these cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” (1910)

      In truth I know very little about the life of Theodore Roosevelt and actually am not even sure of the precise context of this quote but I think the gist of what he is saying is pretty clear.  And I think it has a general message that could apply to many situations.  Now, I realize I am a little boyish in the sense that I love battle imagery. If you’re an all pink lady, this quote may not be for you. For those of you who are still with me here, the reason I love this quote is because it reminds me a lot of the criticism that sometimes fills our pews.  You see, I spent a lot of my time in college and graduate school critiquing the methods of various bible teachers, pastors, and writers.  Criticism is the name of the game in most academic institutions and rightly so.  It is quite appropriate in those contexts.  The difficult thing about studying the Bible in an academic institution is that it invades your entire life…I mean you can’t even escape your field of study when you are sitting at church trying to get a breath of fresh air.  This makes for an interesting dilemma.  As I would sit through various sermons I would think to myself, “Oh no! Gasp, a topical sermon, but wait, I only approve of expository preaching.”…“Did he/she teach that text appropriately?” “Was that even in the right context?” “Well, he/she obviously has never read this passage”… “Is this worship song really fit to be sung in these hallowed corridors?” 

Now I am not saying that these are bad questions to be asking per se, but simply explaining my personal situation.  Well, interestingly, it was about that time that I got so fearful to even lead a small group Bible Study in fear that I would pronounce something wrong or spread heresy.  And God forbid, that someone would say I just wasn’t a very good teacher/leader. I had apparently sat with my arms crossed during one too many sermons.  You see, the more I sat under teachers, pastors, and worship leaders with the goal of sizing them up, the more fearful/timid I was becoming to even serve in a very small ministry capacity. 

The Lord has done a great work to change my heart over the years.  He has done it through His Word. Frankly, I think I was becoming a modern-day Pharisee.  The first time I became fearful of who I was going to become was when I was at a church in Grad school and immediately after the sermon a man (who apparently took great pride in having been to Seminary) rushed up to the Pastor and “proved” to him that he preached one of his points wrongly. The dude didn’t even thank the Pastor for his wonderful message. Nothing. Just criticized him for something so trivial and silly.  I was for sure “dumber”. Yet wiser. Because I saw a vision of whom I could become. I mean, easy for this dude to sit back and wait for the Pastor to slip while this faithful man had to get up and preach in front of thousands of people.  He had prepared all week for a man to immediately rush up to him with a pointed finger in the biblical text. Sounds like something you would hear Jesus condemning in the Gospels, doesn’t it?

I have come to realize what a miracle it is for the Lord to use us in spite of our weaknesses.  We are going to make mistakes and dangit, we may even teach a passage of Scripture a tiny tiny little bit out of context at some point. Not because we want to or because we are maliciously trying to lead people astray, but because we are simply human. I am all for being trained to study the Bible. It’s the biggest passion in my life, but the truth is, we still just see through a mirror dimly. We don’t see fully yet.  The truth is we may study and study and study, and then get something slightly wrong.  Or think about this- maybe we are teaching a Sunday school class and we got all the doctrine/theology down perfectly, but our delivery wasn’t smooth.  In fact, it sounded terrible.  Well, the glorious thing is that the Lord uses the truth we taught anyway.  And maybe we’ll improve the eloquence of our delivery the next time.  I love it.  I really do.  Our fears of not getting it all right should never keep us from serving faithfully.

I just want to give a shout out- a toast of sorts- to all of you women who will serve tomorrow morning in your various congregations in spite of your fear of not being perfect and polished.  You are putting yourself out there for the sake of the body of Christ- you may be bloody and bruised, but you’re in the ring, right?  Sorry about the sports metaphor, pink ladies…lucky for you- I am done ranting.

      CHEERS to “the doer, not the mere critic- the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done” (Roosevelt, 1891). For, “Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it.  The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness.  It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.” (Roosevelt, 1894)




200 Responses to “Cheers to the Doer!”

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  1. 1
    twinkle says:

    Max Lucado quote…

    “Cynicism is lazy thinking.”

  2. 2
    Diane says:

    Your post made me cry. It is so very difficult to work hard and work diligently for our awesome God, yet be judged, many times without mercy…by men. And not just any men, but those who truly feel they are righteous.

    I just try to remember that my Jesus, my Savior and my Lord faced this same challenge. He faced it unto his death…his death for ME.
    He did it for me, I can do it for Him.

    God Bless your genuine honesty!

    Love, Diane
    Joplin MO

  3. 3
    Anonymous says:

    Bravo, Melissa!

    I would like to apply Roosevelt’s quote not only to those who preach or teach, but to our (at least for 2 more days) President. It’s easy for those who are mere onlookers to be critical….

  4. 4
    Anonymous says:

    Oh how critical I can be! How judgmental! This is my struggle

  5. 5
    Leah says:


    Thanks so much for the word of encouragement. For those of us who teach and speak the Word it is a constant concern to not only be correct and applicable but also to be pleasing in my delivery.

    For weeks before I speak I just beg, beg, beg the Lord to put His words in my mouth and not to let anything that is not His word come out of my mouth. I’d rather die than lead anyone astray.

    Love these quotes.


  6. 6
    Diane Muir says:

    Wonderful post. Amazing thoughts. It’s going to take me awhile to process on all of them, so the only response I will give you right now is affirmation and thank you.

  7. 7
    Jan says:

    Amen! Melissa. I teach Sunday School to the Seniors of our church. Every time it is my turn to teach, they come up and thank me so much for the lesson. I am very blessed because a lot of the times I am scared to death … there are so many in there that have studied the scriptures far longer than I have been on this world. They add to the lesson and God blesses it and I get thanked. It is me who gets more out of each lesson because I study the scripture each week before I teach and struggle with what illustrations can I share that will bring it to life for these dear people. I read to find out what the context is and can its lesson be applied to other areas of life or was it specifically written for that subject.
    God definitely uses broken people to share his healing message. I am very thankful for that. As I am that He would choose to use me to share His wonderful healing message!

  8. 8
    Andrea says:

    Melissa, without getting all political…I think President Bush could really appreciate that quote! Maybe it will make its way to him…probably he’s already very familiar with it. Thanks! I always feel like backing out as the date draws near to lead Bible studies…I never do I just have anxiety! I will keep this quote handy!

  9. 9
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you Melissa. As a pastor’s wife, I watch those men and women who slaughter my husband or even roast him over lunch. I wish they had the insight you just shared. I wish they could see the pain they cause our children.

  10. 10
    Bobbie says:

    You’re awesome! What an encourager you are. I was going to call you a modern “Barnabas”, but you just don’t look a thing like he’s described in the Bible……..

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. 11
    Lynn says:

    Bravo, Melissa. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    By the way, in the Catholic Church (and I think others)January 18-25 is set apart as the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Just wanted to let you all know that I am praying that the WHOLE Body of Christ can share the special love and unity that we Siestas share on this blog!

    Sister Lynn

  12. 12
    Anonymous says:

    Good word Melissa. I have a tendency to be critical myself. I once heard a christian counselor say “Criticism is discernment with unforgiveness in the heart.” I never forgot that.

    – Michelle

  13. 13
    HisGeorgiaPeach says:

    Love love LOVE that quote! I’m like you, a bit tomboyish and think the battle scenario is great. This comes at a great time for me, with me being a teacher in the school system and in church. Thanks so much for the word of the day, Melissa!

  14. 14
    Anonymous says:

    AMEN!! From a pastor’s wife who is fighting in the trenches against this very type of thing in her small church, this word was timely and very encouraging.

    Thank you.

  15. 15
    Anonymous says:

    Your post reminded me of a story, I’d read in some novel or other (I wish I could remember which one), in which a farm boy hears the parable of the sower and comments that Jesus must not have been a farmer or he would never have told that story. Because, of course, no farmer worth anything would toss seed around that, letting it fall everywhere but where he had furrowed.

    I think Jesus knew what he was talking about. I’ve had some pretty good training, but when all is said and done, we teachers are all out there just flinging seed and trusting the Holy Spirit to blow it in the right direction since He’s the only one who really knows which hearts have been furrowed. (Now back to my Sunday School lesson. It’s only Saturday night, so NO PRESSURE!)

    (the incompetent farmer)

  16. 16
    Jessie says:

    I am of your thread Melissa – and God taught me something through CS Lewis’ words many years ago – a quote that I will give to you in exchange for the Roosevelt one…

    “When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘no answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head, not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace child; you don’t understand.’

    Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”
    – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

    This quote helped me on sooo many levels, but one of the basic ones is that no matter how much I think I have got things figured out – pretty much my insight is nonsensical when compared to the thoughts and understanding of our God. And oh, what a relief that became to me…it is so totally freeing to depend solely on Him for wisdom.

  17. 17
    Susan B. says:

    Thank you, Melissa. I struggle with this…I am but a mere student, but love the Word of God. My prayer is to teach truth…but so many times, I wonder if I did it right. In the battle!

  18. 18
    Charity says:

    Ok, seriously… I LOVED these quotes!!! Where did you find them? Are they all from a particular book? They resonated so well with me, and I’d love to read that/those books! Thanks so much, dear Melissa!

  19. 19
    Sarah says:

    Ooh, I needed this! What a terrific quote! Thank you for sharing it!

  20. 20
    Anonymous says:

    WOW!…Too often it is easier to be critical of the speaker instead of opening our heart to the message Gods sending through that speaker. THANKS so much for the encouraging words.

  21. 21
    michellemabell says:

    Moving here to Vermont 8 years to follow my husband’s job ago has proved difficult in finding a church. I was continually looking for what I “had” before.
    My church experience may be somewhat lacking, but I am there every Sunday.
    But what is just mind blowing is how I have grown so much in my own walk with God…on my own.

    Thank you for reminding me that I am thankful there are even churches at all!!!
    Thank you for the encouragement. I will go tomorrow with a fresh attitude.
    Thanks and blessings to you!

    Michelle in Woodstock, Vermont

  22. 22
    Deidre says:

    Whoa!! LOVE THIS!!

    I teach Sunday School to high school girls, but I can tell you I almost didn’t. I let fear of speaking something wrong cripple me FOR YEARS. Even now that I am teaching and enjoying it so, so much, I am fearful. Let me tell you that nothing challenges me more than a high school girl ‘plugged in’ because she WILL question – rightfully so. A less-mature me would allow any questions to keep me in my seat. Praise God He equips us to do His work – and offers grace when we mess up.

    Thanks for the word, Melissa! And, thanks for the reminder that the more I study, I tend to get a little too big for my britches when hearing other speak/preach. I need that reminder!

  23. 23
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Melissa. I don’t even know if you will read this or not.

    A couple of weeks ago I stepped totally out of my box and filled in for the SS teacher in the women’s class. When I walked into the room, there were about 12 women just staring at me. I froze…the enemy took over and I was horrible.

    I’ve been beating myself up ever since.

    Thank you for the encouragement!


  24. 24
    Kim says:

    Bless You and thank you for your honesty. It is so refreshing.

  25. 25
    Paige says:

    This is a very busy blog, but I just want you to know that this blog is read daily by me and means so much. I have tagged your blog and all women who visit this blog with the honesty award! You can see the award on my blog. Hugs!

  26. 26
    Tina says:

    AMEN sister!!!! I needed this more than you’ll ever know.. I bet your momma is so proud, but not as proud as your Heavenly Father..
    Much love, Tina B

  27. 27
    Laura_Primus says:

    My mind went directly to President Bush and to President Elect Obama as it did for a few others. I have told my husband many times, who are we to criticize the president of the U.S.? Are we up there, could we do it? We don’t have to agree with every decision and might be abhorently against something they believe in but we need to support them. We need to PRAY for them not attack them!

    And, I’m grateful for all the pastor’s wives who were willing to share their stories in the comments. Especially the one who said she wishes people understood how the negative comments hurt their CHILDREN. Those of us who are not pastors or teachers of the Word (from a get up in front of a crowd perspective) often forget that pastors and teachers are HUMAN.

    Thank you for the quote. I’m going to print it out.


  28. 28
    Anonymous says:

    I’m currently recovering from being on the receiving end of an onslaught of criticism. I’ve thought many times in the past year that I had no idea how offended other Christians could become when someone dares to try and serve her God the way He wants her to serve.

    This has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to go through. I’ve always been a church girl and to feel so rejected has been very painful.

    Thank you for sharing this today. I’ve always been super critical of myself and hearing so many hurtful things said about me has made me want to crawl into a hole and hide. But I know that’s what satan wants, not God, and the last thing I want to do is give the enemy his way in my life.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  29. 29
    Melissa says:

    Thank you for this. For the exhortation and the encouragement.

  30. 30
    OCP says:

    Thank you, Melissa, for your encouraging post.

    We are all called to speak/write truth.

    Your post is an call to search deep inside our hearts and take action.

  31. 31
    Anonymous says:

    prov. 14:22

  32. 32
    Ms. W says:

    well done!

  33. 33
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues~

    I have used those exact words for MANY individuals.


    If you need any help ~ or any of the Siesta’s please feel free to ask!!


    Hat’s off to the Siesta who takes control and wants to CHANGE her way of living!


    Remember, Our Education system NEVER taught BUDGETING IN SCHOOL.



    MELISSA IS 100% CORRECT IN HER “Cheers to the Doer!”

    We are such a great Siesta Group and want the best for eachother ~

    Let’s uplift one another with support in our battle of the balancing budget blog!

    Lets get on our Armor and Fight for Financial Freedom that leads to peace and harmony!

    I LOVE reading all the comments and have learned so much from Beth, Amanda, Melissa,Siesta’s and several of you who have contacted me too!

    Thank you!!!

    With “Heaven Bound” Blessings,

  34. 34
    whittakerwoman says:

    Oh its good to have you back. H

  35. 35
    Georgia Jan says:

    Melissa – I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how timely this word is. Amazing – amazing – amazing.

    Thank you for cheering on this doer and wife of a “full-time doer” and mother of a “full-time doer.”

    I am crying – and I’m not a “crier.”


    You are something else, you know that?

    Mrs. Jan

  36. 36
    Mary Watkins says:

    Your eloquence of thought and word display wisdom beyond your years. Wisdom that comes from God and diligent study of His holy word. My heart was blessed by your post.

    Tomorrow morning I will enter the ring in Sunday school surrounded by a group of kindergarten girls. My greatest fear is not being perfect or polished because they are not critics. My greatest concern, however, is the ability to communicate God’s truth and love in a simply way.

    Thanks so much for your encouraging words. “Our fears of not getting it all right should never keep us from serving faithfully.”

    God wants us to step out on faith and He will help us in the endeavor to serve.

    To change the subject, has any one every heard of the song writer and worship leader Laura Story? Last week for my birthday someone sent me an Itunes gift of her CD, Great God Who Saves. Check it out. You will be blessed.


  37. 37
    Gayle says:

    What a PERFECT post given the outpouring of insecurities we’ve all given.

    I don’t know anyone who is drawn to an individual who does nothing but criticize. It doesn’t edify, and it certainly isn’t love, yet most of us are prone to it… Help us Father.

    Love your posts, Melissa.

  38. 38
    Cindy in Ferndale says:

    Very good Melissa, that was inspirational!
    “loved it!”

  39. 39
    Carolyn Bodkin says:

    Terrific post, Melissa. Thankfully, one of the most effective classes I ever taught was when I was in a bad spiritual place and God used my efforts anyway. Women still tell me how impactful that class was and it stuns me and humbles me every single time. I’m so glad I have a vivid example to remember when I get to impressed with myself. (Hey! If you come to Green Bay with your mom when she comes, we’ll take you to lunch at the Packer’s Lambeau Field atrium somewhere. 🙂 From one not quite pink lady to another!

  40. 40
    Anonymous says:

    Your post reminded me of what the Lord has been speaking to me about this past week. I read Timothy Keller’s book “A Prodigal God”, and became aware how I am often more like the older brother who, like the Pharisees, saw himself as much better than the younger brother. Yet, in the parable the younger son is restored to relationship with the father, and the older son refuses to go in to the feast. Ooooh that sounds scary. I have been asking the Lord to show me where I am like the older brother, and. . . He is always faithful! How I love Him!
    Crystal City, CAN

  41. 41
    Callie says:


    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your post!!! I am a student at a well-known Christian college and had a rather difficult experience in a Bible class last semester. I was so fearful that I was going to misinterpret the precious Word that I sharing what I was learning and eventually stopped reading because I felt I was constantly wrong. Every day in chapel I was critiquing the speaker and his message. Praise the LORD that He has restored my passion for His Word and my excitement in reading it. Before I open the Word, I fervently ask Him to give me understanding and not let me misinterpret the passages, BUT I don’t let it keep me from reading and pursing a deeper knowledge of my Savior and my Lord.

  42. 42
    Mary says:

    I say it all the time, “Thank You God for using me in spite of me.” It’s something that stills brings awe to me. He loves me and uses me for His glory – even though I may have been “less than perfect” all week long.

    I love Him for that.

  43. 43
    Iris says:

    Reminds me of a song from the early 70’s, “in the clear ring stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade, and he carries the reminder of ever glove that laid him out and cut him til he cried out in his anger and his pain I am leaving I am leaving..but the fighter still remained..”

    Another memory was clicked from your post Melissa, all our children went to Christian unversities, our boys to ABU and out daughter to St. Stephen’s, something terribly familar happened to them all: for the my oldest son it was year 2 for my daughter it was year 4 and for the youngest son it was year three…that sense of judging landed on them huge….all their friends went through it too, I was so grateful God’s hand touched them throughout that time for I am sure if they had resisted the revelation to their souls similar to what you had they would have missed out on by their own testimony the most amazing walk with God they could ever imagine.
    Our oldest son went on for his Master’s of Div. as did his beautiful wife. He is now a youth pastor and does am amazing job remembering to be kid like every day. Our other two are doing great and wonderful things in this world and we are so proud of them. They are wonderful parents and hang tightly to their faith.
    I share this more as a ditto to your post, I know what you are talking about I have seen it and probably was almost that way at several points in my faith walk as well. I am so grateful for God’s un-ending love and patience with people like me.
    I am a blessed lady.
    Thanks for sharing

  44. 44
    Nichole says:

    The gospel is supposed to be so simple that a child can understand it. This is one of the reasons I LOVE the studies your mother (with your help) puts together. She connects the dots…old and new. Makes it profound, yet easy for me to get it. I LOVE THAT. And yeah, if you grew up in the church…we all have a little pharisee in us that keeps us running to the feet of Jesus. His grace is sufficient for me. Every stinkin’ day.

  45. 45
    Andrea R says:

    Thanks for the encouragment!
    My Miesta and I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Sunday School. We always ask each other and the end of class “Did I sound alright? Did I say the right thing?”
    The fear can be overwhelming but we know we have to just trust God and He’ll take care of it.
    I also lead our Ladies Bible Study, about 30 women, and I am the youngest one in the room. Majority of the women in the room are double my age. Very intimidating. But God is there with me/us and our group loves being multi-denominational an mulit-generational.
    For me it all goes back to TRUSTING GOD!

  46. 46
    Anonymous says:

    I needed this tonight. I am in the middle of preparing for adult SS tomorrow morning (Downpour by James McDonald). I have been feeling very inadequate today about teaching (and weary). God spoke through you to me at just the right time.

    Love and prayers,

  47. 47
    Three Fold Cord says:

    Do you know that as I read your post I wanted to brew some coffe and invite you over. What a great conversation adn prayer time we could have on everythign you mentioned. Thank you for challenging us to humbly examine and then go for th even if there is fear. I sould go on…but the huby wants me to come and watch a movie.
    Much luv,

  48. 48
    Tara says:

    Thank you Melissa! What a refreshing word from you tonight! Many times you do feel dusty and sweaty and all beat up in the ring… but at least we’re there, serving our Lord. In the end, that’s much better than being on the sidelines anyway. Thank you, friend.

  49. 49
    Sista Staci says:

    YAY!!!Score for the Home Team!!
    Keep Shining for JESUS, Sweet Siestas!!

  50. 50
    Grammy and Olivia says:

    I was not familiar with the Roosevelt quote. Good post with great encouragement. Thanks!

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