How to Destroy Your Church: My Way or the Highway
Destroying a church is easy, particularly if you are in a position of leadership. Simply insist on “my way or the highway.” It’s a very equestrian position: dig in your heels like a mule, and get on your high-horse at the slightest provocation.
If you want to take this position, remember these simple principles:
If anyone disagrees with me, they are de facto in the wrong. My way is God’s way, so he is on my side. There are no grey matters, ever. Everything is black-and-white, and I call the color scheme.
Now, in order to hold to this position, you will probably have to ignore principles like grace, tolerance, kindness, gentleness, and love. It is imperative that you remain true to your convictions, no matter who gets hurt or what gets said.
Above all, don’t ever attempt to walk in someone else’s shoes, understand their opinion, or consider their interpretation of Scripture. That could very well upset the whole applecart, because you might see that I Corinthians 12 talks about the importance of every member of the body of Christ; that in Joshua 5, God says clearly that it’s not so much about his being on our side as about us being on his side; and that in Romans 14 Paul reminds us that there are grey matters in life, and we are to be gentle and tolerant with one another.
Now, if you would prefer to preserve the health and life of your church, then I have one simple word for you: humility. In Philippians 2, Paul writes, “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Ironically, people with a “my way or the highway attitude” are actually trying to attain exactly what the above verses call for: one mind, unity of spirit, singleness of purpose. The problem is that they assume that their mind is the one that everyone should emulate, their spirit is the one everyone should follow, and their purpose is the one everyone should embrace. And that, at its most basic level, is pride.
Scripture is very clear about what pride precedes: destruction (Proverbs 16:18). And the church is not exempt from that warning.
Humility, on the other hand, seeks the mind of Christ instead of self. It demonstrates love, regardless of differences. Discovers unity within diversity. Establishes purpose that embraces everyone’s unique contributions. Humility not only looks out for the interests of others, but it honors others above self. No mule heels digging into the rocky soil. No high-horses from which you can look down your nose at others.
When we live in humility, dialogue about differences becomes the fertile ground from which good fruit is grown. We discover anew the wealth of God’s grace at work in the lives of others. We rejoice at the Word of God, “living and active” in each of our lives (Hebrews 4:12). And we affirm with every breath, “Not my will, but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:39).
© 2008 Paula Marolewski
Paula J. Marolewski of Sink Your Roots is the author of challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individual and group use, available at http://www.SinkYourRoots.com/. Sink Your Roots is also the home of Seedlings, a free weekly journal of “Little thoughts that grow big results.”