Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Bearing Ridicule and Criticism

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"A reproach of men, and despised by my people, all those who saw me ridicule me" (Ps 22:6-7).

When Father Pishoy Kamel was serving in one of the churches in America, one day he approached the church committee and asked for an increase in his salary by $100 a month.

This matter proved to be extremely controversial, with some supporting Father Pishoy and saying that he deserved the increase, whilst other more vocal objectors on the committee ridiculed Father Pishoy and accused him of all sorts of things. They said things like, "Father Pishoy is greedy he wants an increase in his salary today and tomorrow he will ask for another increase there will be no end to his requests for more money." etc

What is somewhat interesting about this whole incident (and may have been forgotten by the committee at the time) was that ten months earlier when Father Pishoy first came to serve in this church he was asked how much he wanted to be paid, and he asked, "What is the lowest salary in this country? The answer was "$300 per month" so Father Pishoy said, "then $200 will be enough." This caused great amazement amongst the people at the time, for how could someone survive on so little.

Despite all of this, one of the close servants who knew Father Pishoy well found this to be a very strange request and at such an odd time. He went and asked Father Pishoy why he was asking for an increase at this particular moment having survived so long on such a small wage without complaint or even mentioning it. Father Pishoy answered him with his gentle smile,

"My son, my service is complete here and I am going back to Egypt, and of course a new priest will come to serve you instead of me. However it would be very difficult for the new priest to survive on the salary being paid, particularly as he would have a family. He would face the embarrassment of having to go to the committee from the beginning to ask for an increase in his salary, and this will cause him to be ridiculed and criticised and misunderstood as you see. It will lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and will be damaging to him and such a bad start to his service must not be permitted to happen.

Rather than allow him to face such ridicule and criticism I decided to ask for the increase, at least if people misunderstand me I am departing back to Egypt and this will not affect me, but if he were to ask for the increase then it would affect him from the beginning of his service and for a long time there after."

Here is a wonderful lesson my brethren in not only looking out for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and our fellow servants in the service, but to go further and ask the question. How many of us are willing to go as far as to set aside our personal honour and bear the ridicule and criticism which might come upon others for ourselves?

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