I’m declaring war on negativity.
The level of vitriol coming from those who call themselves believers is concerning. “Vitriol”, by the way, was an older name for sulfuric acid – an appropriate description for the impact of a corrosive critical spirit. It seems during this election cycle entire campaigns are built upon shrill, abusive, name calling tactics…and it is scary how successful the negativity strategy has become.
Spiritual leaders are not exempt from this temptation. I’ve been in pastors conferences where the main topic of conversation in the hallway was how the main speaker didn’t use enough Scripture, or his exegesis wasn’t spot on, or the worship team was too loud or sang too many songs. No wonder criticism is rampant in the church – they’re simply following their leaders.
Negativity is a spirit of the age that must be resisted. Nowhere in Scripture is criticism and negativity lauded as spiritual gifts. Ministries can often be known more for what they are against rather than what they are for. I like what Shane Idleman wrote in a recent article –
“I am deeply saddened by the spiritual condition of many Christians. We love to be armchair quarterbacks and diss pastors and Christian leaders, yet we have no idea of the demands they encounter and the pain they feel. Our sinful tendency is to pull others down. We may think that somehow this makes us look better. If we are truly concerned about the body of Christ we will hold our tongue. Self-righteousness has no place here. But I’m not referring to sweeping corruption and deception in the church under the rug. Wisdom is needed.”
Indeed, wisdom is needed. Resist the temptation to jump on the negativity bandwagon. I wouldn’t follow a leader (or vote for one) whose platform is based primarily on criticism of others. Ephesians 4:31-32 instructs: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.”
Now there’s something worth fighting for!
Follow me on Twitter at @timwdoyle.