Seemingly, it’s easier to be nit-picky than uplifting.
It’s easier to find flaws than strengths in someone or a program.
It’s easier to point out what someone or something is doing wrong rather than point out what they’re doing right.

I guess it makes sense that we tend to focus on the negative than the positive of other people/programs/organizations/churches, since we do that with ourselves.
We focus on our flaws and magnify them, rather than being gracious with ourselves.
We can hear 9 wonderful things about us and one negative thing, and our mind dwells on that negative thing.

Oh. But we don’t have to be a hater. We don’t have to be constantly taking a sip from the hater-ade.

I like to think that both the Wife and I got lucky in our marriage. Because, let’s face it, (especially in the Korean culture) when we marry, we marry someone’s entire family. I’m blessed with the in-laws I have and she likes my family too. Well, maybe not my brother. But it’s okay. None of us like him. (I’m kidding).

Out of all her family, we see her oldest sister the most. Mainly because she lives the closest to us, in Las Vegas. And yea, that’s the sister whose house where this happened. Her in-laws live in Los Angeles, and whenever she visits them, we always get to hang out with her.

I think my SIL’s (sister in-law) faith and heart is admirable. She’s a devout and pious Christian, but not in a weird or I’m-holier-than-you way. She is of force of silent servanthood.
I bring her up, because she’s been part of churches where the actions of the pastors raised up various red flags.
But yet she would still serve so faithfully.
It was a bit frustrating, because a part of me felt that the pastor may be taking advantage of her servant heart.
Occasionally, the Wife and I would try to talk my SIL to “take her talents” else where, a church where not only she can give sacrificially, but receive (spiritually).

But every time we question the pastor’s motive or question the church or suggest that she find a healthier church, she shrug us off and be like, “Don’t say that.” She would never join in our duet of… bashing, but instead focus on how she can help the church move to a healthier place. (Oh. It should be noted that she’s a lay member at her church and not on staff or anything like that.)

It got me thinking. If anyone had a legitimate reason to gripe and complain, it would be her, but she chose not to. Why? And how…?

She attends early morning service prayer, faithfully. When I was in Vegas, I saw her having a Bible study with her daughter. Not only does she genuinely love God, but she reveres God and serves God and God’s people. Her actions simply shows who she belongs to  more than any words she can say.

Then I started thinking about other role models of faith within my life and what negative things or complaints they would have of other other people or ministries or whatever.

And I came to a unproven and untested theory that the closer we become to God, the more align we become with God’s will, the less criticism we have and the less of a hater we become.
Don’t get me wrong, these people I look up to have criticism and displeasure of things. But it feels different.
It feels less like criticism, and more of, “how can I help make things better?” And yes, I realize this is a generalization.

But here’s what I do know for sure.
The more critical we become, even of the small, irrelevant things in our lives, the more it becomes a habit; the more it opens our hearts to be jaded.
If we tend to focus on the negative aspects and flaws of organizations and what not, we train our hearts and eyes to look for the negative first and foremost. And sometimes, those flaws that we find become too much to really see anything else about that person/program/ministry/organization. And it leaves us unhappy, sometimes bitter and angry even.

But for those of us who are part of churches, and criticize complain about our churches and ministries that happen within our churches, instead of complaining/criticizing, have we ever instead said, “How can I help?”

No one’s perfect.
No church or ministry is ever going to be perfect. We’re always going to have broken people doing God’s will.
We don’t need people to point out our brokenness; we need people to help make us better and more effective in bringing God’s dream and vision to life.

So, may we work on being less of a hater, and focusing on how we can help/serve to make things around us better.
Paul wrote that knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. Instead of pointing out what we know and may do better, may we actually apply that knowledge with love, so we can help build up.

And, when you have time, take a listen to one of my favorite songs from one of my a favorite albums by one of my favorite bands.

…may all jaded hearts be healed … may all weary hearts be filled with hope. Amen.”

let church bells ring
let children sing
even if they don’t know why, let them sing
why drown their joy
stifle their voice
just because you’ve lost yours
may all jaded hearts be healed. amen
let all men dance
lift up their hands
even if they are naive, let them dance
you’ve seen it all
you watch them fall
wash off your face and dance
may all weary hearts be filled with hope. amen 

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