What Is Anti-Audience?

When I hear or read a great quote, it usually sticks with me. I have a hard time letting go of it. I posted about just such a quote last month, “Go Make Yourself Useful!” Well, I have found another quote that has captured my thoughts. This quote about our “anti-audience” comes from a post called The Perverse Monstrosity of Our Beautiful Work by L.L. Barkat over at The High Calling blog community.

anti-audience

Criticism

In this post, Barkat described a letter she had received that criticized her writing. Evidently it was aggressively worded, because it elicited strong reactions from her friends when they read it. They encouraged her to ignore the letter. She was tempted to allow it into her heart.

Barkat went on to tell how several examples came to her mind of popular artists and performers that had received similar criticism. She realized that this was not an indication of bad work, but likely the opposite was true. Here is her quote that stole my attention…

Good work doesn’t just find audience; it also finds anti-audience.

I am sorry, but that is just powerful. Think about it…some of the best performers and/or performances are polarizing. In any given “audience,” regardless of the category of performance, there are always people that find some reason to complain about or oppose a good performance.

Human Nature?

I guess it is human nature. I am sure that someone with training in psychology could tell me why this is the case. Regardless of the reason, I know it is true. I have seen it when watching Tiger Woods or Tim Tebow. I am sure you could name your own examples.

What Is The Point?

So, we agree that this is true.

What is the point as it relates to a Christian business?

What should a Christian leader learn from this truth that would strengthen them in their effort to integrate their faith into their business?

Why do I think this quote is so important?

Expect Opposition

My first thought is that it is important for anyone planning to “perform” in front of any sort of public audience to be prepared for criticism. As Christian business owners and leaders, we certainly fit this category! While criticism is never easy to take, it is less painful when you are expecting it. Just as we are more likely to survive a storm when we make preparations, we can better handle rejection when we know it is coming.

Look at this quote from Dave Ramsey in his book EntreLeadership:

You can’t lead, market, and/ or run a company successfully without drawing fire from people who don’t understand. So as you win prepare to be misunderstood and lied about.

What Is “Good” Work?

As true as this is, I have an even bigger thought that is the main point of this whole post. To help me make this point, let’s take following quotes from Jesus. In the first quote, Jesus is referring to Himself and God. In the second, he is relating trees and their fruit to men and the things produced from their hearts. The Greek word translated “good” is the same in both quotes.

“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good.” – Matthew 19:17

“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart.” – Luke 6:45

In this context, reconsider the meaning of “good work” in L.L. Barkat’s quote…

Good work doesn’t just find audience; it also finds anti-audience.

When we look at Barkat’s quote from this perspective, it takes on a whole new meaning! Rather than thinking about the criticism drawn by good work in general, consider what it means to a Christian leader producing “good” out of the “good” storeroom of his heart.

Anti-Audience

Does it make sense to you that our “good” work as disciples of Jesus will find an anti-audience? Do you expect it or are you surprised when it happens? Do you prepare for it and deflect it, or are you tempted, as Barkat was, to give it permission to enter your heart and deter you?

Just in case you need some reinforcement, let’s take a look at more of Jesus’ words.

In this world you will have trouble. – John 16:33

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. – John 15:19

There Is An Enemy

Folks, there is an enemy that hates you because of your family name. You are not of this world and therefore the world is going to hate you. This “hate” may not show itself to you on a daily basis, but I submit that it will show itself to you with a frequency that is directly proportionate to the impact you are having on people for eternity!

See, I believe “good” work finds an anti-audience. I believe that the more we do in the name of Jesus, the more resistance we will meet from the world. I believe that you know exactly what I am talking about if you have tried to run your business based on your Christian faith.

Anti-Audience Is Unavoidable

I do not believe this anti-audience is avoidable or I think Jesus would have said, “In this world you might have trouble.” In fact, if you are not experiencing what I am describing, then I would encourage you to look for hard evidence of your faith. I am NOT saying you do not have it. I am simply asking you to do a deep dive and look for any evidence someone could use against you in court if they were accusing you of being a disciple of Jesus.

If you HAVE experienced what I am describing, then I have good news for you! I left out some of Jesus’ words in one of the verses above! Let’s look again at the full quote…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Good And Faithful Servant

Despite the trouble we are told we are to face, we are also promised peace! We get this peace because Jesus has overcome the very world that is against us! This is great news! It is news that should drive us to do the “good work” that we know we are designed to do. We should do this good work without fear of ultimate loss. If we will do this work, we will hear the words that we should long to hear – including that same Greek word for “good”…

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” – Matthew 25:21, 23

Has your work found anti-audience?

Do you need to step up your good work?

Do you find encouragement in Jesus’ words regarding the anti-audience?

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  • I think society’s model of good leadership and the Christian’s model of good leadership are so different that there are bound to be some issues that come up. The concept of an anti-audience is a good one – I’ll have to remember that when the going gets tough.

    • I agree with you Loren – the models are different because there are polar differences in the purpose for each group. If our leadership as Christians matches too closely with society’s model, I think we are missing something.

  • Great post!

  • Bradley J Moore

    I hate the idea of an anti-audience. I want everyone to love and respect my work and my leadership. But that’s just not reality. This one is easy to talk about, but very difficult to face!

    • You are right about it being difficult to face, but if we can somehow remember that the audience of One is the only One we should be playing to, it gets a lot easier.

      Of course, remembering that is the hard part!

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  • Chris, I always think of root beer when a topic like this is broached. I have yet to meet a person who is indifferent to root beer. Cola, sure. Root beer, never. People either love it or hate it. Interesting to note that Jesus said about a lukewarm church, “I would rather you be hot or cold…” Love me. Hate me. Just don’t be indifferent. Thanks for sharing the quote.

  • Chris, I always think of root beer when a topic like this is broached. I have yet to meet a person who is indifferent to root beer. Cola, sure. Root beer, never. People either love it or hate it. Interesting to note that Jesus said about a lukewarm church, “I would rather you be hot or cold…” Love me. Hate me. Just don’t be indifferent. Thanks for sharing the quote.

    • That is so true! I have never thought of that, but you are dead on!

  • Chris, could you share a specific instance of anti-audience behavior toward you as a Christian man in business?

    I figure I’ll develop an anti-audience when my book releases due to the subject matter (heaven and hell) or I’ve done a poor job of telling a story and will remain in an obscure section of the paper (figuratively speaking).

  • As a missionary trying to reach out to the Jewish people, I COMPLETELY know the heartaches and headaches of anti-audience.  I even have relationships with people calling themselves Anti-Missionaries because their sole purpose is to counter the things I preach!  Having an anti-audience is painful, but I’ve notices a positive side-effect in my life: the challenging and strengthening of my faith!  The anti-audience forces you to grapple with your own message and ask yourself “Do I really believe this?  Do I believe it enough to face my critics, and continue preaching it?”  James 1:3 reminds us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance… If James had left it at that, it would be enough, but he goes on in verse 4 to say that perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything!  As a missionary, I have learned to be grateful for my anti-audience!  They test my faith and perseverance, and keep me humble 🙂

    • Aaron, I appreciate you sharing your experience with this! You certainly know what it is like!

      I will pray for your continued faith and strength in your efforts. Keep up the “good” work…

  • Anonymous

    These are some great points. Really enjoyed learning about ” anti-audience.” I have found no matter what you are doing their will always be people who criticizes and try and bring your down. Staying focused on the truth of what you are called to do is important.   

    • You nailed it Dan…”staying focused on the truth” is the key!

  • Hello 🙂

    You know, this may have been stated as I did not read all the comments.  Sometimes the anti-audience you speak of is just plain old jealousy and/or misplaced envy.  The negative elements are all around us, on a daily basis.  This is how I often get around the nay-sayers, to recognize where the criticism is truly coming from.  Perhaps not from my own performance but from human frailties in others.  

    This may sound self centered, but the fact is, this is the truth in many cases.  Learning to recognize the basis for the criticism can help us know we are not in the wrong on any given issue.

    .02

  • You are exactly right! And you are not self-centered when you learn to recognize the true basis for the criticism.

    In this way, you may determine that the criticism is justified. Then you can make necessary changes. However, when it is unjustified, you can move on without allowing it to drag you down!

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  • Amen Chris. Someone once told me, Satan only attacks those who are a threat to his purpose in this world. The same is true of people too! If there is no anti-audience we should wonder what we are not doing that we should be doing. As you quoted: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this
    world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the
    world.” – John 16:33 I have found solace in this truth… God bless!

    • Thanks Coach! This verse is a huge strength for me as well.

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