Build others up instead of tearing them down

Sunday, May 2, 2010

When I was growing up, when Mom had enough of me she would say, "Go outside. Come home when the street lights are on." She said with a strain in her voice that I didn't understand until I became a parent.

Come to think of it, "go outside" was a phrase I heard a lot. Whenever we stumbled upon a dirt pile, the game of the day would be King of the Hill; a game that favored the larger and stronger children, of which I was not. I hated that game.

King of the Hill is different from being competitive. Being competitive is bringing your best to the playing field, giving your all because your opponent is going to do the same. Competitiveness brings out the best in us and in others. King of the Hill is about isolating yourself by knocking everyone else out of commission. The sad thing is that like most of the games played as children, this one continued on into adulthood and particularly shows up in the church.

The church of the New Testament was plagued with men and women wanting to be king of the hill. The Apostle Paul, once the persecutor of the church and now its greatest champion, wrote a letter to a group of Christians in Corinth who were trying to one-up each another. Their division and self-centeredness was so challenging that it was causing tremendous harm not only to their church but to non-Christians in Corinth.

Using the picture of a body, Paul wrote that a foot cannot say to the hand "Because I am not a hand I am of no use." Nor can an ear can say to the eye, "Since I am not an eye I have no value." This exaggeration brings quick clarity to the point. Each part of the body is unique, but it is dependent. The body would not be whole if it were a solitary eye, ear or foot. And so it is within the church.

God has given everyone in the church unique gifts. Some are hands, some are feet, others eyes, and on and on. While these gifts can bring deep and great personal satisfaction, it was not given to solely for this purpose. It is given for the purpose of encouraging and building each other up.

We each have a role to play; we each have a spot on the hill.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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