Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 NIV
Unfortunately, this passage in 1 Thessalonians does not always represent the state of affairs in our churches and ministries. Anyone can be an agent of criticism and discouragement.
All it takes is having an opinion and believing it is your job to tell people just what you think … about someone. Often the someone is a minister, pastor, or missionary.
Yet scripture admonishes us to hold those who are in the ministry in high regard in love because of their work. But you may ask, “What if I don’t agree with them, or I don’t like their style?”
They may not agree with you or like your style either, but that doesn’t give any of us the license to become an agent of discouragement. Romans 14:4 says it well, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
None of us has enough information to stand as another man’s judge—only God does.
Unless we want to play God, it is better to be an agent of encouragement in the lives of others rather than cause disruption in the work of God. Our battles should be with the enemy of our souls, not with each other.
Ministries often face their greatest battles from within. Our biggest fight should be to bring down the obstacles Satan puts in the way of winning souls to Christ—not to bring down or put down each other.
This has been something I have always disliked. I’ve heard people criticize certain ministers who God has used in one way or another to bless my life. My response has always been, “Well, I like ______.”
What else can you say? Each of us is entitled to our opinion, but I believe we often do the work of God a disservice by not keeping some of those hurtful and destructive opinions to ourselves.
Why not pray for the person instead?
May God help all of us, as Christians, to become agents of encouragement, rather than agents of discouragement! In so doing, the work of God will be advanced rather than hindered.