Recently I was having dinner with a couple of friends when the conversation topic turned towards churches and ministries. More specifically, we were talking about things we liked, and things that we sometimes didn’t entirely agree with or had questions about.
Somewhere into this conversation, I found myself sitting back and taking stock of the things that were being said, and a question popped into my mind. “Is this honoring those whom we are talking about?”
I am of the opinion that when it comes to just about any situation, these two adages are true:
1) Leadership is a lonely place, and 2) it is much easier to criticize and complain than to be the one leading and making decisions.
Having been in full-time ministry for almost 4 and a half years now, and various leadership positions before that, I think that there is a tendency of not only putting leaders on a pedestal, but sometimes we as Christians do a poor job of showing grace to them.
I would know, because I’ve been one of those who’s done a lot of finger pointing.
My point with bringing this up today is not just to say that complaining and criticizing is inherently detrimental, but I also think it is on some level, unbiblical. God may be our ultimate Ruler and King, but even He commands us to respect those in authority over us. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Blessing vs Condemning
Working for a ministry like Campus Renewal Ministries, I am afforded the opportunity to work with many different ministries from all sorts of cultures, backgrounds, denominations and schools of thought.
Some are ministries with whom I connect more on a personal and theological basis, and others whom I don’t quite understand as well. But the conclusion I’ve come to is that God is working in all of them, and just because I don’t necessarily agree with everything, doesn’t mean that they are wrong.
I once heard someone say that the path to God is straight and narrow (John 14:6), but the road after that is wide and broad. Meaning that once we’ve come into relationship with God through Jesus, our paths and callings can look vastly different from one person to the next.
So while I’m sure it would be easier if we all had the same translation of the Bible, agreed on all the same terms and definitions and all worshiped God the same way, I have a feeling God made people different for a reason.
Because of this, I find much more satisfaction in blessing what God is doing in another ministry or church and the reach that they have with a particular group of people, than pointing fingers and shaking my head over what I think they’re doing wrong, especially if that’s not how I would do things.
Laying Down Roots
Let me share a secret with you: You will never find a perfect church or campus ministry. *insert gasps of shock* Yes, yes, I know, tragic, but it’s true. But you know what? I’m okay with this. I also think that the sooner we accept that, we will be able to focus on what God is doing where He has placed us, instead of constantly looking for the proverbial greener grass on the other side.
I suppose the point I’m trying to get at is I think we live in a day and age where too many people switch churches or ministries for reasons other than God calling them to go to a different place. You know what I’m talking about – the preacher said something that rubbed me the wrong way, the worship isn’t how I like, those around me aren’t as excited as I think they should be, I want to be around different people…
In all these contentions or statements of dissatisfaction, I have to ask “Is this you talking, or is it God?” And I’m willing to bet that a lot of times, it’s us. We must understand that God’s desire is for all of us to be connected to a local community, be it a church or a campus ministry. And wherever we are called, it is our responsibility to ask what instead of why.
What am I called here for?
What does God want me to learn?
What can I pray for my ministry/church?
What is God doing here that I can join in on?
Honor at All Times
Before I end, let me get one thing straight, I am not saying that you should accept everything a church or ministry says as right. At the very least, churches and ministries have to agree on the basic core of the gospel.
Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, we have salvation by grace through faith in Christ and God exists as three persons in one namely God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit which makes the trinity. If a church or ministry is going against this, then it is right for you to leave, and is some cases, you may also be called to confront the leadership. (Please pray about this and get counsel before you decide to do something like this).
The above however, tend to be exceptions. So with regards to the ministry you are called to, remember that part of your responsibility to that ministry is to honor them. This includes watching what you say about them, particularly when you are upset or dissatisfied with something. Keep in mind that even if 10 positive things have been said, it only takes one negative comment to change all that.
So today dear reader, my hope is that my pontifications have helped you at least think about this concept of honor in a little more depth. Whatever the case is, wherever we are called, we would do well to try our best to honor those in authority over us at all times. It is in this place of honor that we not only learn to respect those around us, but also learn to see God and how He is working in them as well.
Question: Who are those around you whom you can and should honor? And what are the ways in which you can honor them?
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org