Have you seen the movie “Chef” yet? It is a great movie. The premise is about a chef who has a breakdown after getting a bad restaurant review.

I’ve been thinking about that movie a lot today. Why? Because tomorrow, the New York Times is publishing a pretty nasty review of my restaurant. And trust me, I’m not being overly sensitive: it is a bad review. You can read it here, if you must.

So how does one handle such critics and critiques?

For whatever reason, Rand Richards Cooper pretty much hates our concept, our service, and our food. It would be easy to get defensive, to argue with him, point out some of his more absurd critiques (really, the wine glasses?) And it would be easy to take it personally too. When you pour your heart and soul — and 70+ hours a week — into something, it can be hard to seperate your own identity from the venture itself.

I know everyone deals with criticism. But it does seem that the two professions I have chosen — ministry and restaurants — lend themselves to greater critique. As a pastor, it came usually via private letters or emails. Sometimes through the gossip mill. But always just under the radar. In the restaurant business, it is much more public… Online reviews, newspapers, etc.

Do having been on the receiving end of a lot of sharp criticism and attack, here are some lessons I’ve learned in terms of handling it well:

1. You can’t take it personally.
An attack or sharp critique of your ministry, business or project is not an attack on you.

2. You need to take it seriously. 
You need to be humble enough — and wise enough — to see the truth in critique and learn from it.

3. But don’t take it too seriously.
Here’s the thing, it is the opinion of one person, who I’ve never met, who doesn’t know me, who has his own hangups and issues. So take it for what it is, but don’t take it too seriously.

4. Grow from it!
Get stronger, work harder, become better.  Use critiques as motivation to grow.

5. Be confident in your own skin.
I know there is some truth in the critique. While still only 8 months in, we don’t execute as consistently as we should, we still have some areas to work on, etc. But I also know that 90% of our guests love what we are doing. I know our food is really good — most,of the time. But that means we need to keep getting better. But it is also important to remember that our identity and worth is not in our achievements nor even our character, but based on whose we are. My identity and worth is grounded in my relationship with God.

No one likes critics, criticism and critiques. But it’s part of life and we need to learn to handle them well… And even grow from them.

What tips do you have for dealing with critiques?

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Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Gay Christian Conundrum – Three Authors Discuss Their Journeys

I’m excited about this event coming to the Mark Twain House on June 24th, 7:00PM.

This promises to be a dynamic discussion between Jeff Chu, author of the book “Does Jesus Really Love Me?” (which includes a chapter about my story); Justin Lee, founder and president of The Gay Christian Network as well as the author of the book “Torn”; and former born-again believer and now atheist Chris Stedman, author of the book “Faitheist”.

I really loved Jeff’s book and have enjoyed his writing over the past few years. I also really appreciate his personal story, intelligence and openness.

While I never met Justin, I am a bog fan of his blog, book and work at GCN. I’m excited to hear him in person and to meet him.

Both Jeff and Justin — like me — have arrived a place where we can say and affirm that we are followers of Jesus who are also gay. Chris, on the other hand, has landed in a different place, having left the faith after becoming born again in his youth. While I have not read his book, I look forward to hearing his story as well.

I highly recommend attending this event — it really should be great! Let me know if you plan on going!  You should register for the event here.

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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The Start of Something Very Cool…

The start of something very cool… the Association of Inclusive Evangelical Churches. It will be exciting to see how this movement grows!

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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


Book Response to “God’s Gay Agenda” by John Umland

I haven’t read the book, but John Umland does a nice job summarizing it.  I will definitely read it based on his review.  Looks interesting.

I have done enough research to know that much of her exegesis as it relates to eunuchs, pais, etc. is pretty on point.

Check it out and let me know what you think…

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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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“Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University”

This is a really interesting and thought-provoking memoir article by a former student at Liberty University — one of the great fundamentalist colleges out there — who is also gay.  Worth reading, because probably not what you think.

While the author struggles with the question, “Does Jesus really love me?” ultimately, the bigger struggle is whether he likes himself.

I remember that struggle well.

Hiding in the closet in the evangelical sub-culture tends to produce a level of self-loathing and hatred that is soul-killing.  My guess is that this is true whether you are in the evangelical subculture or not.

I remember one of my first conversations with Bart Campolo when I hung out with him in Cincinnati. We were at a little dive diner in the city.  I remember Bart saying, “you are going to have to learn how to allow God to love you and like yourself at the same time…”

Easier said than done.

But I got there.  It took a lot of God’s grace and months after that conversation — but that was the beginning of a journey towards health.

Anyway, read the article and let me know what you think…

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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Link This is a fantastic post… read and discuss…

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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


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This is a great post from Justin Lee. Check it out and let me know what you think…

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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in link



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