Christians (especially leaders). . . stop being jerks to each other!

Great little church in Wittenberg, Germany

I took this at a great little church in Wittenberg, Germany a few years ago.

It happened AGAIN this morning.  I looked on twitter and found yet another minister taking not so subtle shots at other ministries.  I wanted to scream at my phone. . . “stop!”  I didn’t, as the people in this Asian McDonald’s would have probably run in terror.  However, the urge to yell was certainly there.

Let me start out by saying this; I know this particular tweeting minister.  He is a good man.  A very good man.  His ministry is strong and has a great impact.  I really do like him.  I really do believe in his ministry.

However, in casting vision for his own ministry, he felt it incumbent upon himself to take shots at others. 

While he never mentioned other ministries by name, he did make it clear that the rest of Christendom is not thinking clearly.  Though I KNOW he would NEVER say it directly, his remarks were subtly saying, “I have figured this out, while the rest of you are out to lunch!”

Again, I like this man very much and have been richly blessed by him over the years.  I hope to get in a meal with him when I am back in the States next time.  However, I’m over this culture in the American church where we seem to be constantly communicating that “we” have figured it all out, while “you” are just plain off.

Simply stated, we as Christians (especially Christian leaders) do a terrible job of loving and respecting each other.  Actually, we often act like “jerks” to one another.  This is not good.

When thinking more about this, four points come to mind regarding this that I plan on telling my friend, the aforementioned tweeting pastor.

First, we ARE brothers and sisters in Christ.

We Christians are literally brothers and sisters in the same family.  We are diverse, opinionated, and even often wrong.  However, Biblically we are closer than blood relatives.  We have the same Creator.  Our salvation is found in Christ alone.  The same Holy Spirit dwells in each of us.

While we clearly don’t always agree, let’s at least respect and uplift each other.  Being a person of faith is hard enough in today’s day and age.  In the midst of a world which is pessimistic at best and hostile at worst towards us, let us as fellow believers at least love and spurn each other on.  Please.

Second, Christianity is NOT a zero-sum game.

When one of us “wins”, we all win.  When one of us “loses”, we all lose.  On top of being a family, we are also one BODY in Christ.

We each fulfill different, yet vital roles.  Please let each member of the body of Christ fulfill his/her role without having to be exactly like your role.  Please.

This is not a zero-sum game.  There are not winners and losers.  If Christ is glorified, WE ARE ALL winners.  If His name is ridiculed and mocked, we are all losers.  You are not better off when I look stupid.  Conversely, when we see God use you in wonderful ways, we should all celebrate.

Third, the world is broken and in need of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Think about how much the world today needs the Good News of Christ Jesus.  People are crying out for hope and purpose everywhere you look, even if they don’t even know it themselves.

The energy we as Christians expend on criticizing each other is much better spent else where.  Instead of my friend slamming overseas ministry as opposed to domestic, can’t we simply cheer each other on?  Instead of pitting one against the other, can’t we inspire, encourage, and even build upon each other?

The world needs Christ.  There are many wonderful and diverse ways the Lord is and will use in reaching the world.  Let’s celebrate this diversity and not see it as a threat to “my ministry”.

Finally, the world NEEDS Christians to love each other well.

There is a passage in the Bible that literally stopped me in my tracks when I realized it’s implications a few years ago.  Though I had read the book of John many times prior to this certain time, this section seemed to stick out for the first time.  It is John 13:34-35.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Christ gave this message to His disciples just before His crucifixion.  As Christ had already told them repetitively to “love one another”, He is saying it here as “a new commandment” for greater emphasis.

What I love about this passage is that Christ Jesus Himself is telling us that our primary calling in evangelism and world impact is to FIRST love the other Christians around us.

It is not our winsome arguments.  It is in our articulate teachings on the person and work of Christ.  It is not even our “good works” He is talking about here.  All of these are important, but Christ here simply chooses to emphasize this point.

As a community of believers, Christ teaches us that as we “love one another”, then “all people will know” that Christ is God and the salvific message of the cross is genuine.  The love of fellow Christians is and must be the foundation of evangelism and world impact; at least according to Christ Jesus.

In summary, Christians, especially ministers and other full-time Christian workers, please stop taking shots at each other.  Instead, pull for, encourage, and build upon each other’s works.  We as the extended body of Christ need you to simply love each other much better than you presently do.

Furthermore, the world at large NEEDS you to love and support each other.  For. . .

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(I wrote an article about one such case last spring, in “The both/and Christian mentality”.  If you liked this article, you might want to CLICK HERE.)  

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Comments

    • says

      Great clarification. I am definitely NOT talking about areas of clear Biblical sin here. This article is about simply tearing down others in ministry simply because they don’t do the same method as you.

      Thanks for helping me clear this up!

  1. Bob Nichols says

    (Amen x10) X 10! Thanks For Your Great Writing And Thoughts. Wish We Could Sit Down For A Few Hours (Days!) To Catch Up. Meanwhile This Forum Will Do! Bless You Brother.

    • says

      Thanks a ton, Bob!

      Yeah, I agree. To say we are “overdue” would be the understatement of the year.

      Hopefully we can pull it off one of these day.

      Great hearing from you!

  2. says

    JG – I agree with you, but have to admit I’ve been guilty of doing exactly what you completely expose as wrong and counterproductive. I have had to ask myself, “why?” I think one reason is I forget the point you made, “This is not a zero-sum game…” We leaders are insecure like everyone else. We forget how much the Father loves us. That leads to fear that we really are on our own to convince people they should follow us. That is a nasty self focused cycle.

    Remembering God’s love for us and his willingness to give us the kingdom, to give us the Holy Spirit…is the only way to kill this tendency in us. Your post points us in that direction.

    • says

      Trent, honestly, I see you as one of the “good guys” in this situation. You have always been very encouraging to me and excited about other things going on around the world. However, I understand how hard it is at a local level in the States to keep a solid perspective on this.

      I completely agree that it all goes back to our identity. Am I going to derive my worth out of what I do or from whom has saved and made me new?

      Thanks for speaking up on this, Pastor Trent. As always, I love hearing from you. Miss you, my friend!

  3. says

    This is so true and you said it so well. As a church leader for the last 12 years, it has been a constant battle to be FOR one another and the Kingdom movement in our city when so often it seems like we’re working against each other, even unintentionally. I just taught on this very passage last night!

  4. Jami Holland says

    Great post! This topic has come up a lot recently for me. I watched the livestream of the last Passion Conference in Houston, and loved what Beth Moore spoke to those students. She encouraged them to “fight the good, beautiful fight”. She then went on to talk about how so many Christians are fighting with/against each other, instead of working together to fight FOR people. I believe Satan is doing his best to put people against each other, and it breaks my heart. This past weekend I went to a missions conference here in NC, and Anne Graham Lotz’s first words in her message were “How many of you have been wounded by other people IN the church?!”. Woo. As the daughter of parents and 2 brothers in the ministry, I have seen years of secret meetings, people against each other, churches/ministers trying to out do others, playing the one-up game, etc. When I was a teenager, it was so hard to wrap my mind about the fact that people who taught me what it is to follow Jesus in Sunday school were the same ones throwing secret meetings and fighting the wrong fight. Or not jumping in to celebrate great things happening across town. I alway go to Hebrews 12, reminded to always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus! When my gaze gets off of Him, I can be the wounder just as much as the next person.

    You are right, this is not a zero-sum game. It’s not an if/or, but both/and…thanks for all the reminders in this post! What if we did take all the energy used in comparing/negative words/competing/etc and really work together for the kingdom?!! What could be accomplished for Gods glory! If people would keep in mind that we exist for Gods glory, and not our own, then there would be less of people being jerks…cause it’s not about us. All the more reason to be on our knees especially for the leaders in our churches and ministries!! And to ask God to show us if we have said or done something in a jerky manner to another fellow believer, and to try to make it right! Search us O God and know our hearts, try us and know our thoughts. See if there be any harmful ways in us, and then lead us in the everlasting way!

    • says

      Wow, great and painful comment to read. Really, really appreciate you taking the time to read, think, and respond. Very good stuff here.

      My heart literally breaks in reading you comment here. I have seen so many people deeply wounded by others WITHIN their own church communities. Heartbreaking to know you and many others have experienced the same.

      Seriously, I am encouraged to pray and “enter into” this more than ever before. Thanks for your words here. Very good to hear and they provoke me to prayer and action.

  5. Paul Gardner says

    John, As usual I like what you have written. I have no idea of course who was being criticised by whom, but there are many, many wonderful-sounding preachers even here in Atlanta who are truly by any biblical standard false teachers yet are leading many even in our own congregations astray. We do have to call out these people, though hopefully respectfully. Paul

    • says

      Thanks Dr. Gardner for your point here. I completely understand and agree with you. He is a wonderful man, but I really do feel like he was speaking out of pride and not edification of the body.

      Really looking forward to being “home” in a little while and catching up with you and everyone else at CCP!

    • says

      Very confused. Very, very confused.

      Just went back and re-read. I don’t think I used “overhead projector”, though it does sound like something I would have said.

          • says

            Not at all. I feel very nostalgic. I believe the last place I saw one of those was in the Aerobics Room (yeah, that was a thing) at Lovett for FCA meetings.
            It took a coordinated worship leader to be able to sing and change the transparencies for “Prince of Peace” at the same time.

  6. Lee says

    John, as I read this article I couldn’t help but think the article is doing the very thing it is criticizing.

    • says

      Nice. I was wondering who would be the first to say this. . . I understand your sentiment, but don’t necessarily agree with your conclusion. Agree to disagree on this, my friend.

      Hope you guys are doing well. I tried to connect with you some over WeChat a few months ago to see how you were, but I assume you don’t check it anymore.

      Good hearing from you, Lee.

  7. M. Vance says

    Stumbled on your blog from a link on my friend’s blog. Anyhow, I think we could all use a healthy dose of what you wrote here. It reminds me of Mark 9: 38-41, which reads as follows: “John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”
    If Paul, while in chains, can rejoice that the gospel is preached, whether from false motives or true, (Philippians 1:15-18) then we certainly can too.
    Thanks for sharing and being willing to speak the truth in love to your tweeting friend.

    • says

      Thanks for letting me know you read and enjoyed this article. I really appreciate it.

      Great passage to think though on this issue. . . thanks for adding it and your thoughts here!

  8. Richard says

    Well, there is a very interesting scripture in 1 John 5:1-3 that basically states that one’s love for God is reflected by one’s love for their brother in Messiah and vice-versa. That is a pretty hairy statement if one carefully analyses what is being said. Our relationship with God is revealed by our relationship with our brothers, and our relationship with our brothers is revealed by our obedience to God’s commandments. Notice that it isn’t God’s requests that are in view here but His commandments. I believe that it is only fitting to understand that God is God and there is a certain amount of reverence that is due to Him. We must all stand before Him in order to give account of ourselves, which strikes me with genuine concern to be pleasing to Him. Another issue is that God in Christ FREELY FORGAVE us all our sins. In other words, He would have been absolutely just in not forgiving us. But instead He chose to. How grateful I am for that and how much should I be grateful to God that He has extended the same gracious love to him/her my brother/co-heir with Messiah! I believe what happens to a lot of us is that we forget the great love that God freely bestowed on us at our conversion. And since He is not a respecter of persons that means that the same great love that He has extended to me He has also extended to others. If we would keep that in mind and continually thank God for His goodness to His Covenant-Community as well as for our salvation, then maybe we would just be too blinded by His love to notice the trivial issues that get our focus off the most important One in our lives. God bless, Richard

    • says

      Richard, great stuff here. Thanks for taking the time to elaborate this Scripture and the implications upon fellowship with other believers. Very helpful to think through in this. Thanks!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. . .