Recently, God led us to focus more on our family. One way we’re going about it is to spend more time playing board games and card games. We have a 4-year-old, Gavin, who is about to turn 5. Gavin loves playing Uno. We have a 14-year-old, Jake, who really would rather be playing PlayStation, but he indulges us.
Jake can even enjoy the family fellowship at select times. But other times, he gets hung up trying to enforce the rules on his brother. Everyone else is laughing and enjoying the game. But this focus on his brother’s shortcomings often keeps Jake from just relaxing and having fun with us.
I try to tell him, “It’s not your job to enforce the rules on your brother. Mom and Dad enforce the rules, and we don’t play that way.”
But it’s not just that. We’re focused on something completely different. We’re focused on enjoying each other’s company and having unity, harmony, and peace in our family. We make a lot more allowance for Gavin based on where he is in his understanding, ability, and maturity level.
When working closely alongside other Christians, I think it’s all too easy to get hung up on trying to make sure others are doing what they’re supposed to do. If we focus too much on other people’s shortcomings, we’ll lose our ability to go with the flow and just enjoy the work.
If we don’t recognize this and correct it rather quickly, we may even become frustrated and bitter toward our co-laborers. Perhaps most importantly, we may cost ourselves or the ministry good fruit in return for our labor.
One way to combat this is to realize that God is often focused on different things than what we’re focused on. We may get hung up on pursuing the right strategies. We get bogged down in the details of increasing productivity, having the right format for weekly meetings, or driving more revenue. We may even become overly focused on trying to make sure everyone else is doing their work properly.
But more than anything else, God is looking for us to love one another.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35)
If a group of Christians is walking together in love, they will be unstoppable in their mission. They will bring glory to God and be effective in reaching the lost. No matter what else we do, or how good we are at it, if we’re not loving, we’re only “clanging cymbals” (1 Corinthians 13).
It’s not very loving to focus heavily on other people’s weaknesses or to force our idea of perfection on them. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT)
Sometimes there are serious problems in a work or ministry situation. I’m not suggesting that everything can be overlooked. Serious issues need to be confronted and dealt with in loving and healthy ways.
But picking apart our brother or sister’s behavior, fixating on their shortcomings, and trying mentally to keep them in line on every little issue is indicative of a serious internal problem. I know because I’ve been there myself.
How to Respond if You’re Having This Problem
The problem of focusing on other people’s imperfections won’t go away on its own. Whenever I recognize that I’m struggling with something that I can’t easily overcome on my own, my first step is to pray about it.
Secondly, I find another Christian and confess the problem to them. Then I ask them to pray for me.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:15).
I believe that verse is about more than just physical healing. When we confess an ongoing struggle or weakness that we have—and ask our brother or sister to pray for deliverance and healing for us—that is often the quickest path to healing and freedom from the struggle. We have to follow up by making some effort to change, but most often the spiritual foothold is broken at the moment of confession and prayer.
Once the problem is taken care of in this simple manner, we’ll be free to love our co-laborers, produce good fruit for the Kingdom, and enjoy doing God’s work together.