Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog

Read. Discuss. Imagine.

  • Print
April 2, 2013

Listening only to criticism from others who have “dared greatly”

Since being posted in December 2010, Dr. Brené Brown’s TEDx talk has been watched by more people than live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, ranking it among the top 10 most watched TEDx talks in the history of the online offerings.

This straight-talking Texan, who serves as a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work, is now popularizing a field of academic research, headlining conferences (I heard her in San Diego with a group of Episcopal priests), and challenging the way we have come to think about ourselves, our relationships and our institutions.

Brown’s research, often described as liberating and groundbreaking, appears in three books in addition to the TED talks: “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t),” “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly.”

In each, her topics are vulnerability, authenticity and courage -- virtues that institutional and congregational leaders are often told they should embody. Her research has captured the interrelationships between these practices and revealed how, without confronting one’s own sense of shame, they remain elusive.

The research is fascinating and well-worth reading, but equally of interest are the lessons that might be learned from Dr. Brown’s reaction to the reactions her research has received.

When a TEDx talk has been viewed more than eight million times, it is safe to imagine that there will be extensive online conversation and, as of writing, 1,190 comments have been posted to the TED website and another 830 on the YouTube mirror site.

These comments range from fawning to flattering to mean-spirited to belittling (all reactions that institutional and congregational leaders experience, if on a smaller scale). Knowing what sort of uninformed rants litter the web, one might wonder why Dr. Brown would even begin to read these comments, but she did.

Initially, she was pained by the malicious words of some posters, but over time, the experience helped her identify one simple criterion for listening to feedback. It is that famous quotation from Theodore Roosevelt:

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 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in 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 fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

-- From “Citizenship in a Republic,” delivered at the Sorbonne, 1910

Today, Dr. Brown will only listen to criticism that comes from the women and men who have done their own time in the arena, who understand what it is like to “dare greatly.” It is a simple assessment, but it is a wise lesson for all of us who lead and are subjected to the judgments of others.

There is no need for criticism to shame in and of itself.




Is it possible to be saved without having your sins forgiven? Was Saul saved by faith alone before his sins were forgiven?

If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, then he was saved without having his sins forgiven.

Saul believed in Jesus on the road Damascus, but his sins were forgiven three days later in Damascus
Act 9:1-19......9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank....

Saul sins were forgiven in Damascus, three days later, not on the road to Damascus.
Acts 22:1-16.....10 And I said, 'What shall I do Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'.......16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins,calling on His name!

Saul was not saved by faith only. Saul was saved by believing and being baptized in water.

Jesus did not establish faith only salvation on the road to Damascus. Jesus confirmed what He already had said "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved"... (Mark 16:16)

You cannot be saved unless your sins have been forgiven.

In order to support the doctrine of faith only men have offered many reasons why the Scriptures cannot be trusted.
1. The Bible is not the inerrant word of God, it has many errors and contradictions.
2. You have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible. If you understand the original Greek language, then you would know water baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins.
3. You need to use extra-Biblical writings to understand the plan of salvation.
4. The Bible has been mistranslated, therefore men are saved by faith only and not the way it is presented in the Bible.

If God is not smart enough to give men an accurate translation of His plan for salvation and Christian living, then why would anyone trust in Him for salvation or for anything else.

God has given us His plan of salvation in many translations, in different languages. You do not have to know Greek.You do not have to have a Greek dictionary. You do have to be Greek. If men had to be able to read and understand original Greek to understand the Bible, then all Bibles would be in Greek.


Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.

You are invited to follow my Christian blog. Google search: steve finnell a christian view


Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.

Post new comment

Comment Policy

* required field