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. 51
    puzzlepiecesista says:

    Listen to this one reverberate off the walls and echo in your ears:

    “BRAVO!!!! BRAVO!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!!”

    From one former basketball jock enthusiast to another (but still at times pink and girly too)!!

    YOU ROCKED IT with this post. My hearts a beatin’ and my hands are sweatin’ and my adrenaline is pumpin’!!!

    YOU GOT IT, TOTALLY GOT IT GIRL….and I did too!!!!

    Thanks Siesta and as my big sis’ would say “LOVE YOU LIKE A ROCK-STAR!!!!”

    Angela Larson – Redmond, WA

  2. 52
    Anonymous says:

    Hey, Beth, Melissa, and Amanda! We are in Esther! Praise God, what a blessing it has already been! Thanks for being so real and a hoot! I love it all, King Headache in English and the Seven Dwarfs, you go girl! And what a special blessing of the recipe for Hamantashen. Oh the memories! My sweet Yiddish grandmother use to make them all the time during our Purim festival. She used the fillings of poppy seeds and or prunes. Love to you all, God bless and continue to be led and obedient to the Holy Spirit. It’s a great blessing!

  3. 53
    Shelia says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have stepped out of my comfort zone to serve in a very public arena and so glad to have the opportunity. But once again, that little voice points out how my kids aren’t perfect, how they make choices I don’t approve of, and how can I step out there when my “house isn’t in order”…etc. But…if I wait til my kids and my life is perfect, until all the back bills I owe on, until I lose weight, etc…. well, then I will never DO anything. I am so thankful for what you have said. Onward we go!
    In His Grip…

  4. 54
    Brandy says:

    Thank you so much. I needed to hear this. I have a husband who went to seminary and became a pastor. Unfortunately for the past few years he has become that critic. We bounce around from church to church because there is always something “wrong”. It has lead to insecurities on my part because I can’t have solid fellowship with anyone. I defer to him as the spiritual leader in my home but when I hear what I think is a good message that touched me or spoke to me, he tells me it is wrong and that emotion shouldn’t play a part in church. I have told him that there is no perfect church but it doesn’t change anything for him. Obviously there is so much going on with this, much more than I can write here. I don’t want to throw this in his face or anything but I have been praying for years for healing for him and it is only getting worse. My heart is breaking. He says his faith is strong but I don’t see it. He doesn’t even go to church anymore and I am the type of person that needs to be involved, deeply involved because that is what God is telling me to do. Unfortunately when I take my young children to church with me, I have to face his comments about “pretend preaching” when I get home. I don’t know what else to do. Please help me. Please.

  5. 55
    Ann says:

    Thanks, Melissa…. I loved the quote! (and I am so guilty too often of being that critic!) I believe God is really working on me. From Jan. 1st, I have had scriptures like, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”, “God Is with you”, your Mom’s blog on insecurity, now yours on getting out there and doing something; perfectly or not….I honestly feel that He is up to something with me…can’t wait to see what! I love when He speaks to us….and ever so clearly!

  6. 56
    Anonymous says:

    I needed to hear that about 10 years ago when I was teaching a high school class… Every Sunday, I made my last point, completed my last sentence, prayed for God to protect and guide those precious kids, said “amen” and immediately turned my back to them and burst into tears…(Then I would put my shoes on…I always taught without my shoes-very aware that in front of those teenage hearts I was standing on holy ground.) How humbling to be an imperfect vessel used by the Perfect Father.

  7. 57
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks Melissa! I used to sing all the time in church, but I stopped because the critics were louder than the encouragers and my insecurity could not withstand it. Now I use my voice to speak to many people from around the world as a tour guide at a “religious museum”. I love the ministry of it so much and watching God speak to people so vividly through the tour! But every once in a while someone will come up with a real zinger of a comment that leaves me stunned and discouraged because I want to so much for Him to be glorified and only the truth brought forth. That others would only see Him and not me, and that nothing in me would hinder them from hearing his voice. I just give him “my little lunch” (like the fishes and loaves!) and pray that he will multiply it back to the listeners. Often I realize that the anointing does not need perfection, but often I wish I could be totally mistake-free! : ))

  8. 58
    becauseofHim says:

    I am so thankful for your post. I have sat in tears today because I am in the middle of taking on a ministry that I have experenced a great deal of criticism this very week. I have questioned our Father if he has picked the right person. I asked for encouragment and received it from His Word and your post. Thanks!!!!

  9. 59
    Laura says:

    What a great quote, not just for those that are criticized or are critical, but also for us who are in the midst of the battle.

    PS. I can totally relate to that not being such a pink girl. I don’t really understand all the hair issues these postings speak of and yet I am fascinated by it. I thought that was why God invented baseball caps. Hum!!
    Laura F.

  10. 60
    Bev Brandon says:

    Your post reminds me of I Cor. Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? God chose the world’s weak to shame the strong. So He might bring to nothing the things that are viewed as something. No one boasts in His presence. You certainly honor His strength in your quest. You have no idea what we went through this weekend but your post encourages this pastor’s wife way down deep.

  11. 61
    Annalou says:

    WOW! Thanks Melissa! I needed that pep talk. Feelin’ a little in over my head leading a Sunday School class for adults. I keep wondering what on earth is the Lord thinking? :o)

    Think I’ll print that one out for a healthy reminder and encouragement to go out there and bravely serve God with as accurately as possible.

    Blessings in Christ.


  12. 62
    Mommy Dot Com says:

    I love how Paul shares that it wasn’t with persuasive words and eloquent speech that he came, but with fear and much trembling. There are times God will let us speak as one speaking the very words of God and those moments are great. But then there are times we just want to say, “God, what was that?” It’s learning to be content in plenty and in want. Our job is to go forth in faith. Good word, Melissa.

  13. 63
    purefire says:

    Thanks Melissa for the encouraging words. I teach a Sunday School class for women, ages mid 20’s to 60’s. We’re an unusal mix but we’ve grown so much over the years. There are Sundays when I leave I tell my husband, “Well, that didn’t go like I wanted it to.” I often say they’d fire me but they don’t want to teach the class, so they put up with me! I was a reluctant teacher at the start, very unsure of myself. But by God’s grace, I’m loving the whole studying and bringing the word to my ladies. It is work, but it’s the best work there is. And I loved the battle imagery! But I am a tomboy at heart. Love ya’ll and am praying for all ya’ll.

  14. 64
    Danice B. says:

    Melissa, your words are so encouraging and so timely. I have just recently been asked to tape my lessons and having had negative comments occasionally over the years has been enough to great anxiety each time I turn on the mic. Thank you for the reminder that as we seek to persevere among critics we stand in good company.

  15. 65
    Tanya says:

    Melissa, thanks for this very timely encouragement.

  16. 66
    kr says:

    HalleluJAH! One of my favorite quotes of all time and boy did I need to read it tonight! Getting loads of criticism right now and there isn’t a constructive bit in it! You and Teddy have reminded me to stay in the ring God’s given me and although it may get messier, I WILL ANSWER TO ONE. God help us all!
    p.s. Melissa…never clipped a coupon in my life….was too pride filled. Now I save $600.oo a month and gain humility as I hold up the line with all my savings..I don’t like it but it works.

  17. 67
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks Melissa, just tonight I have had a critic on my mind knowing full well she will be on the front row of bible study Mon. night and you know God just reminded me in my spirit that I shouldn’t worry about her as long as my heart is where Jesus wants it to be I will make mistakes and mess up but the Lord will be my shield and serving grace and humble pie so I can allow God’s glory to shine through this earthly vessel,,,,,,,you know God does some funny things sometimes, I was one of the most critical pew residents there was and now He has me on the other side serving,,,my goodness the grace of God amazes me ! Thanks for the thoughts and posts I enjoy hearing from you !

    God bless you and Colin and the rest of your gang in TX, you’ll never know till we all get to the throne what each of you mean to us !

    Raleigh Girl NC

  18. 68
    Shellie Paparazzo says:

    Oh, Melissa, I love you. You know that quote was a little confusing to me, but I bet my husband would love it. Simply because it was from, quoting him, “The best president this country’s ever seen.” He loves Teddy Roosevelt. Every time election time roles around he just sighs and says, “We need another Teddy Roosevelt.” Oh, a piece of trivia for you that I learned from Josh. Did you know that the teddy bear was named after Teddy Roosevelt. He loved them and had tons of them. That’s why we call them teddy bears to this day. I told you. He loves him. He knows all kinds of things about him that most people don’t care about. Anyway as one of the “pink ladies” I still love you. And I love your honesty. I have to admit I’ve been told I have the gift of teaching and avoid it like the plague, cause I just know I’m going to screw that one up. Talk about insecurity like your mom was talking about.

  19. 69
    Cheri-Beri says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, sister. While our church is huge, our building is not. We have two Saturday evening services and I teach a 4th & 5th grade class during one of the services every week. I have lost a little weight as of late and my pants were starting to slip down tonight while I was teaching class. So I just hiked those babies up – kinda did the hip shimmy shake and everything. I then thought "I can't believe I did that in front of all these kids." But, thanks to you, I am reminded that hiking up one's pants – shimmy shake and all – during a Bible lesson is not the worst thing that could happen!

  20. 70
    Anonymous says:

    Wow! So well written. I, too, have been paralyzed in my own market place ministry with this idea of perfection – and if I can’t do it perfectly, then not doing what God called me to do at all. I’m printing this and keeping it close…I’ve wrestled with God so many times in the last few months on letting me stay at home full-time with my boys, but just not feeling released to do so because of the certain call on my life in the market place. Thank you, Melissa!

  21. 71
    Angela says:

    Awesome post, Melissa. Bring on the battle imagery! 🙂

  22. 72
    Meghan says:

    Love that quote. My sunday school group has a new word–Pharisitical. We use it lovingly, and laughingly when one of us starts sounding like a pharisee.
    That said my spiritual mentor taught me a lot about criticizing a sermon with just a look and a sentence. I had told him that I was very unhappy with the new pastor at our church; I just wasn’t getting anything out of his message. (mind you I was not complaining that anything he said was unbiblical, just not my style)
    He looked at me in the way only a mentor can and said that he leaves on Christian tv all day sometimes, and that some of the shows featured people he did not agree with, some even with major theological differences. But if they are reading the Word of God, He can meditate on the scripture if not the message. He looked right at me and said that if I wasn’t getting anything out of the message at all, it was my own fault. Stop focusing on the messanger and focus on the message. I never complained again!

  23. 73
    village sister says:

    Thank you, Melissa. I’m heading out to teach SS this morning with fresh courage.
    I appreciate this reminder and your caring.
    Bless you!

  24. 74
    SBL says:

    Thanks, Melissa! Your wise comments speak so well to our insecurities in many different areas of life.

  25. 75
    screamofcontinuousness says:

    you have no idea how much I needed this word fresh from God this morning.
    Thanks. I gotta go to choir now.

  26. 76
    Marilyn in Mississippi says:

    Thanks for the shout out! I just came in here for a minute while I’m eating my oats and drinking my coffee. Am already ready to leave for church. I teach our ladies class and also today I will be giving a presentation during the worship service about the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I volunteer. My pastor asks me to do this every year on Sanctity of Life Sunday. Today I needed your prayers! Was very sick yesterday and still feel so weak today.

    Thanks again!


  27. 77
    Miranda says:

    I LOVE that you’re real about it!

    I also LOVE that you said “The glorious thing is the Lord uses what you’ve said anyway”…

    I’ve had that experience where I didn’t think my “message” would be good enough, but I had a sweet lady pray those exact words over me.. and it motivated me!

    Blessings chica!

  28. 78
    Dianne says:

    I think all of us will benefit from this post. I know that I will. Thank you for sharing!
    Love ya!

  29. 79
    BethNotWanda says:

    Thanks for putting into words what I have often felt preparing to teach. Whew…

  30. 80
    Anonymous says:

    I so needed this…I am a “doer” on the one hand, but now realize I’ve also been a critic! Thank you for this Word, sister.

  31. 81
    He Knows My Name says:

    Melissa that is one wonderful quote. It cut me to the quick reading it.

    That poor pastor. More sadly is that that happens every Sunday in far too many churches. May the Lord give pastors suppernatural love for their critics.

  32. 82
    Melissa Lynn says:

    Thank you Melissa. What a great post…it was challenging, encouraging and eye opening. I loved it. I have been on the receiving end of hurtful, critical comments regarding the prayer ministry I lead at my church and boy, does it hurt. Thanks so much for this word of encouragement and exhortation! I feel a renewed sense to get out there and give it my all for Jesus! It also reminds me to keep my critical thoughts and attitudes in check and offer up prayers for wisdom, discernment and anointing for other ministry leaders. BTW, I enjoyed the battle visuals! From one not so pink lady, to another. 🙂
    Melissa in CA

  33. 83
    AnooCre8ion says:

    This is a beautiful, uplifting, encouraging post. Thank you for sharing.


  34. 84
    Teddy says:


    Bully for you, you are riding a strenuous sanctification!

    Teddy R. (actually just a fan of his)

  35. 85
    Redeemed says:

    Thanks so much for this…I’m right there with you! Just this last week I was deeply convicted over this same subject.
    Oh, and the “battle imagery” thing gets to me too. I find sooooo many spiritual analogies in movies like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan. I really appreciate your insight into this!!!!

  36. 86
    ems d says:

    Melissa – you have greatly encouraged me. I am due to ‘step up’ tomorrow (monday) and give my first talk at our ladies group. About 70 ladies (not all saved) will meet for our christmas meal at a local restaurant and afterwards I am to give a talk (Apparently one of the godly women in our church so ‘potential’ in me!) I am really nervous but your message was great- God doesn’t ask us to be brilliant but just to be faithful and ‘have a go’!!! If any of the siestas have time tomorrow at 15:00cst then I’d appreciate prayer as I talk on Romans 10:13-14 (also my first memory verse of the year)

    13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[g]

    14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

    What an encouragement and affirmation that Beth used the same paragraph in her blog below too – God is great and places people so say EXACTLY the right thing.

  37. 87
    Joni says:

    Reminds me of the song, In Heaven’s Eyes, that says,”This is a life of no distinction: no successes… only tries…. In Heaven’s Eyes there are no losers.” Those words make my eyes tear up. I continue to ask God to kill the critical spirit in me–towards others and towards myself. Truly, it’s just another form of insecurity. And having been on the receiving end of criticism growing up, I know by experience how much damage it can do–emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

  38. 88
    Kristib says:

    Thank you for that word Melissa! As a pastor’s wife, I know all too well about the one who comes up after a sermon and says “that was out of context.” I too have been in a place where I was afraid to minister because of the fear of critics. But I want to be in the center of the arena, doing what the Lord wants me to do.

    Thanks again for the quote and the encouragement!

    Much love!
    Kristi B.

  39. 89
    alaskanporter2 says:

    This quote came at the perfect time, for the perfect reason, thank you!

  40. 90
    Anonymous says:

    Love It!

    Always tell our kids…
    “Be a verb not a noun”

    andrea t.

  41. 91
    Anonymous says:

    I am not an all-pink lady either, and I LOVE sports metaphors and soldier speeches and all that stuff…stuff like you’ve just written. A former NFL player spoke at our church this morning about not letting fear stop you from going for “it” with God and I LOVE it….pumps me UP! I want him to be my life coach (or personal trainer.) ha!

  42. 92
    Karla says:

    Thanks, Melissa. I have to confess that my next comment comes from what I heard this morning from the pulpit (not original with me, though not a quote – um more like a summary). What is our focus at church…is it the pastor, the programs, OR rather our passion and purpose to serve and give glory to God? I mean, WHAT DID JESUS TAKE THE NAILS FOR?! I also just made the connection between having a critical spirit and fear of serving. P.S. My two boys are in the military, so bring on the imagery!

    “The lips of the righteous feed many.” “He who waters will also be watered himself.” “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Prov. 10:21, 11:25, 25:11. Well done, Melissa.


  43. 93
    kara with a k says:

    First of all, I LOVE that quote (I guess I’m just a pinkish lady because I like the imagery as well) …and secondly, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about it. You brought tears to my eyes because I know what it’s like to be both critic and the doer. Which is crazy that I become the critic since I get up in front of a congregation every week, completely vulnerable to the criticisms of others. You would think I would have learned my lesson by now. I am really going to take this to heart. Thanks for sharing.

  44. 94
    Anonymous says:

    i read this last night and was totally critical of everything this morning. i kept remembering this blog and prayed for God to make my heart right! thank you for this!

  45. 95
    Karla says:

    God is in the business of lifting people up; especially believers. He is the lifter of our heads. I want to be in that business too, whether doing the deal or receiving the ministry and encouraging the brethren (and the siestas)!

  46. 96
    Nancy says:

    I am church pianist and have yet to play something perfectly. It can always be better. Yet, I always notice when another musician messes up. I pray I could enjoy another’s imperfection in worship as well as that God would use my imperfection for His glory.

  47. 97
    The Quiet One says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing Melissa, bloody war imagery and all! :o) Have a great week!

  48. 98
    Theresa says:

    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I recently spoke at a Women’s Christmas event and I am so not a speaker. I did it because God had lead me to do it and gave me what to say. I only wanted to do it for God but found myself days later wondering if it was any good, did the girls receive it, questioning myself, blah, blah, blah! I held on to the fact that I did it to glorify God and that’s all God wanted me to do. He would do with it what He pleased. I was to merely be obedient and point to Him. It may not have been perfect, but I was obedient. I did (kinda) rest in that. Then your post today. It gave me a little more confidence in what I did when I stepped out in faith. Thank you for sharing truth. Thank you for encouraging. Thanks for being a thinking kind of girl! I love that kind of stuff!

    In His Grip,

  49. 99
    Kathy says:

    Excellent words. The apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree Melissa!

    Thankfully God looks upon the heart. Thought provoking whether you are in the trenches or the critical onlooker.

    Man’s wisdom is God’s folly. We need to make sure it’s GODLY WISDOM we choose to share whether in the trenches or the critical onlooker.

    Isn’t it heart breaking that so many mention being hurt by their Christian brothers and sisters in both your post and your mom’s on insecurity? If our hearts break reading these, how much more does our Father’s heart break? Oh my.

    How fascinating that the insecurities that paralyze us are caused by pride and our critical selves are also. Thanks for the insight.

    In front of the fireplace in cold and snowy Michigan,

  50. 100
    johandav says:

    Theodore Roosevelt rocks! Listen to what he says about motherhood:

    “The woman’s task is not easy—no task worth doing is easy—but in doing it, and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all national happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed.”

    On the pilgrim road,

    East Greenbush, NY

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