“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
I’m not what you would call a “handy” person. A week or so ago, I replaced our broken garbage disposal with the help of a friend. My wife supervised, but we did the work. I was so proud of a job well done – that is until we used the dishwasher afterwards. The cabinet under the sink flooded, and my wife began to remind me about some plug she had insisted needed removing that we had failed to remove. It’s not a good idea to let my wife supervise jobs, because there is always some plug that needs removing, some switch that needs switching, or some other mystical apparatus that needs tweaking that you’re sure to miss!
In the end, I got under the sink, redid the job, and so far, there have been no mishaps, though I was crushed when she said she thought we had better wait until morning to run the dishwasher – you know, just in case. Apparently, my credibility as a handyman has been permanently damaged. I seem to be one of those guys who are better at destruction than construction. Years ago, when I pastored in the Sierras, our church rented a new space in a strip mall. It was a great location, but the entire space had to be refitted for our purposes. Most of the guys in our church had day jobs that kept them limited to working on the church at night, including the contractor who was supervising the job. Being a fulltime pastor, I was available all day, but even then, I apparently didn’t have the confidence of my parishioners when it came to my handyman skills.
Fortunately, there was plenty to do that needed little skill. The space for our church had been a series of offices, and all the dry wall that constituted the walls in those offices had to be taken out to make room for our sanctuary. I was entrusted with a hammer and shown where the electrical boxes were so I wouldn’t electrocute myself. I stayed busy all day and was quite successful. When the men came that evening, they were able to begin building right away, and I was allowed to help (under their careful supervision, of course).
Building things is not easy, but it is rewarding. Whether you’re building a church, a house, a family, or a life, it takes skill, patience, the right tools, and usually a good team. There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment when one has completed building something. To see in finished form what began as a dream in one’s heart is very rewarding. However, I have noticed a sad reality in our world. Not everyone will rejoice in what you build. Granted, some things should have never been built, such as the Playboy empire of Hugh Hefner, the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, and so forth. But we’re not really talking about those kinds of things. We’re really talking about the things we build with our lives. Even things like an honorable career or a good reputation take skill and time to build.
There are some people who just can’t seem happy seeing others build anything worthwhile. They are hammer people, much better at tearing down than building up. Truth be told, I think we’ve all been guilty of being hammer people at some point in our lives. It’s hard on the flesh to rejoice with others when what we’ve tried to build has not enjoyed the same success. It’s easier to do so, however, if we remember we’re really on the same team. Your victory is not my loss and visa-versa. It’s not unlike a football team where one player is fortunate enough to have caught two or even three touchdowns in a single game, while another receiver was in a position to block for the scorer. Both share in the victory alike. It really doesn’t matter upon whom the light is shining for the moment if we realize we’re all winners together.
Yes, building things is hard. Building people up can be that way too. Sometimes we come into people’s lives when it seems that others have all but knocked the last of the beams out from under them and the roof is about to fall in. Sometimes the damage is self-inflicted. As a pastor, I have seen many people’s lives and marriages, for example, so engulfed in flames that it would have been far easier to prepare some words of consolation for what looked for all the world like a lost cause than to try to salvage what remained. Even husbands and wives can sometimes be better at pulling down than building up.
As Christians, it is our job to build each other up. We are to edify each other in every way we can. One way we do this by speaking the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). People need to be encouraged. Sometimes, when we have the ability to speak honestly into people’s lives, we may even need to share some hard truths with them. After all, there’s no point in telling someone it’s going to be okay if we keep letting them go in the wrong direction. Sometimes people don’t need to hear anything at all. They may just need us to sit with them in silence as they try to absorb the shock of a loss or disappointment. Building can sometimes be a quiet affair, done more with earnest prayer than a lot of words to the wounded.
Regardless of how it’s done, there is more satisfaction in building than in tearing down. When we encourage others, and rejoice in their victories, everybody wins. After all, to build something takes time, dedication, know-how, and, above all, a great deal of love. All it takes to tear something or someone down is a tongue.
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, California, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to randylanebunch.org. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.