Every day at work I get to see a building which is being torn down. Each day bulldozers tug away at the building, and pieces of the old building fall to the ground. The building was built in the early 1900’s, and was once at the height of architecture and design. Now, the building is crumbled into pieces and each day trucks come and take away the leftover pieces to a trash or junkyard facility. As I watch the building being torn down, I cannot help but think about the issue of faith. In my own personal life, I have to make a decision to either build or destroy. Sometimes my words will build faith, and sometimes my words will destroy or tear down faith. What will I do? As I look at the building, pieces are falling to the ground. A crane is tugging away at the building. The building was once strong and sturdy, but now the building is dangerous. Old electrical cords and debris hang from the building, and bricks fall to the ground. Smoke rises into the air as each piece falls to the ground. Each day floors upon floors of the building are falling to the ground. One day, the building will be no more. One day, this once strong building will be gone. Are we like the building?
As a seminary graduate, I have learned how to observe, analyze, critique, and deconstruct. I have learned how to question elements of foundation and structure. I have learned how to ask “Why” with confidence. I have learned the tool of deconstruction, but now in my everyday life I am learning the tool of building and encouragement. Constant deconstruction and demolition destroys. It is an effective tool when our foundation is strong, but without the constant building up of the Spirit of God, we can become judgmental, critical, hurt, bitter, angry, and miss out on opportunities to serve and learn from others.
While I have a fair amount of education, and hope to go on to study at the PhD level, I want to be humble. I am learning in life, and will continue to learn my entire life. I have not “achieved” or reached the height of “anything,” but rather I have been equipped with the knowledge to know how little I truly know. I am humbled, because there is so much to learn and I have only grasped a few measures of knowledge. As I reflect on my education, I think about Psalm 84:10 “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (ESV).” My education does not give me a title or status which is higher than anyone else. I am like anyone else, a member of the church who wants to dwell in the courts of God. Like the psalmist, I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than outside of the church. It is better to stay in the church, than to leave. Whether you agree one hundred percent or seventy percent, it is better to stay than to leave.
I want to be able to learn from everyone, and be able to appreciate and respect each person. I have been honored to learn from some of the most educated people in the UPCI movement. I was able to attend Urshan Graduate School of Theology, and I am blessed to have teachers and mentors who dedicate their lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the pursuit of higher education. I have also been blessed to learn from my home church pastor, and my current pastor. Both of these men have invested in my life, and have taught me about ministry and life. I have been blessed to have women mentors in my life, who have taught me through their life and struggles in ministry. Every day I learn from my patients, and from their stories. I hear about their pains and struggles, and I learn. A degree does not determine whether or not I can learn from someone. It is helpful and responsible for people to have education, but we can learn from people with or without a degree.
As a leader, it is important to have the right motives for leadership. We have to have a desire to build and encourage rather than destroy. It is easy to tear down and organization, spread rumors, and gossip. It is harder to forgive, covenant with people who you may not fully agree with, and bear the burdens of others. As leaders, we have to know how our words and actions touch people. Does what we say help? Does what we say hurt? Are we building? Are we tearing down? Are we destroying people’s faith?
In the beginning of this article, I gave a visual of a building being torn down. There are certain things which are not helpful for people, and in this way certain aspects of the building might need to be remodeled. We should be able to question and reason with scripture, because God made humanity within a covenant relationship which allows for this type of behavior: free will. But constant demolition and deconstruction is not helpful. Being negative for the sake of stirring up strife and discord in a church is not helpful. Think about your leadership, and where you are. Are you helping? Are you hurting? Are you building? Are you refining? Are you destroying? Are you deconstructing? Where are you at as a person? Reflect, and ask God’s Spirit to help lead and guide you.
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