When matters turn to other people’s ministries, do your impressions usually focus on what is positive about their service, or does your attention more naturally fall on the negatives?
I’ve got a friend (who is not “in the ministry”) who uses that phrase to refer to people who find little to applaud in other people’s ministries. A “small applauder” has a very small window for what they consider admirable. They have a small checklist of things they look for and if you don’t hit those… well, your ministry is not really worth much of anything.
I don’t usually like to be around those kind of people. It’s not that I don’t believe in robust dialogue about truth in ministry. And it’s not that I think theologically-sloppy ministry is OK.
Greear then goes on to outline eight considerations that help shape his reaction to the ministries of others. They include:
- Just because God has not shown someone the same grace He has shown to me (by revealing certain things about doctrine and ministry) does not mean He hasn’t shown them anything worth learning from them… God reveals some things more clearly to one than another, so that we can share with one another out of the grace He has given to each of us. The global church is Christ’s body, and we complete each other. He never gives everything to one member. In other words, He did not give us the graces He gave us so that we could be proud and look down on one another, but so that we could love and serve one another.
- If we limit our praise and our fellowship to only those people who see things as clearly as we do, our circle will get progressively smaller and smaller and we’ll get lonelier and lonelier in ministry, which will make us meaner and crabbier than we already are.