Getting Relief from Chronic Critique Syndrome


The week of Thanksgiving is one of the few times of the year I find relief from a sickness I have.

I have CCS.  Chronic Critique Syndrome. I have had it most of my life. I remember noticing it early on after my call to the ministry in 1978. Well, to be honest, I had it in high school before that. Well, to be really honest, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have CCS.


Most people close to me know that I have it. They watch me suffer in silence from its deadening effects but don’t say anything…at least to me. Maybe they talk to others about it, I don’t know. (I think they have it too…so they probably don’t say anything.) Occasionally, my wife will see me overwhelmed by the symptoms of CCS and call me out on it. “Hey, honey, stop that!” and suddenly, I am free for a while.

But it comes back.

But this is the week I get relief…at least for day or two. Blessed Thanksgiving.

Chronic Critique Syndrome (CCS) is an emotional need to offer verbal opinions, critiques, complaints, advice, and comments on things for which I am not responsible. It might be born out of Pride. Most syndromes of this sort are. But CCS takes Pride and mixes with a tinge of Envy to produce an overwhelming desire to say something about something that somehow could be somewhat better if only I was truly in charge.

Here is an instance of CCS in full force: Just a few days ago, I was reading a book by a very well known pastor/author. He has published many books on things I know a few things about too: church, bible, preaching, and pastoral theology. I don’t have any books in print because I have never written a book. He has dozens in print. And as I was reading his book I started to think that I could easily write a book like this one. I would lay out my argument differently. I noticed that he forgot to make an important point that I would have made. One of his illustrations was really lame and dated. He needed an editor on one entire chapter. Big time. I put the book down.

I had forgotten why I was reading the book and began to think about how I could have written his book better.

Chronic Critique Syndrome. CCS. See what I mean? Save me Lord Jesus.

I am not alone. Don’t you say I am. I think it is part of the hazards of leadership and a pastoral calling. Maybe we all have it and we need to form a recovery group. (I could be in charge!)

Years ago I saw a cartoon drawing of the Georgia Dome packed with pastors and preachers all listening to a motivational speaker during the Pastors Promise Keepers Event. (Remember that event? It was scheduled over Valentine’s Day of whatever year that was. If I had been running that conference, I never would have scheduled it over Valentine’s Day. I mean really! What were they thinking? Oh…never mind…CCS again.) As I was saying, the drawing was a cartoon of the moment when one of the speakers was giving the keynote address/sermon to tens of thousands of pastors. There was a giant ‘bubble-thought’ hovering over the entire stadium…as if to say that every pastor was thinking the same thing. What were they thinking? The bubble-thought read: “I can do better than this guy.”

This is the one week of the year I can relax a bit. CCS sharply diminishes its symptoms in the week of Thanksgiving. When I focus on turning to God and being truly thankful for what I have been given, I have found I can let go of having to critique things I have not been given. There is freedom in thanksgiving and this week I am going to make the best of it.

Published on

November 23, 2015


David Roseberry

David Roseberry leads the nonprofit ministry, LeaderWorks. He was the founding rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and is the author of many books. He lives in Plano with his wife, Fran.

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