Lately I’ve been convicted of my often critical attitude toward other people, particularly those who are kind of quirky or just have some personality element that grates against me—this coming from a guy who more or less refused to sit in a chair in his office for a couple weeks. You’ve probably had the same attitude from time to time, so you know what I’m talking about. Sadly, it’s pretty normal for us to think poorly of someone when he does something that isn’t wrong but is simply an expression of his uniqueness.
It would be naïve to think that overnight we can go from being critical to being Pollyanna (and that probably isn’t our exact goal anyway), but here’s a practical suggestion for today: when you hear yourself criticizing someone, add a clause honoring some good aspect of that individual’s personality.
By noting something good about the person, whether or not he’s a believer, we’re taking a small step to honor the image of God in that person (see Genesis 1:26,27; James 3:9). Furthermore, if he is a believer, we are acknowledging a basic truth without which the Church cannot capitalize on the uniqueness of each member: God has not only allowed but designed differences within the Church for its betterment. In other words, He put people who see things differently from you in the Church, and the Church is better for it (see 1 Corinthians 12:4–31, especially verses 21–25).
When we appreciate the differences God has wired into people, we’re much more prepared for the disciple-making endeavor. We start to look for ways to unleash people’s gifting so that they can serve others more powerfully (Ephesians 4:11–16). We don’t try to fit others into our mold. We become less perturbed when our co-laborers for Jesus have a different way of doing things. We even become more open to God-ordained partnerships that we might have shunned on less-than-legitimate grounds.
Have you ever had an experience in which you served with someone who was very different than you? Leave us a quick comment and let us know how God worked through these differences.
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