There are lots of people in this world that are doing things that need correcting.
Where should I start?
Obviously the first place to start is with me. I need correcting. Do I have people in my life who tell me when I am doing something wrong? Am I cultivating these relationships? Or do I attack anyone who is different than me? Or do I in my heart of hearts really think of myself as superior to the people around me, as the person who does the correcting, not the one who would ever need correcting?
But then, where next?
Some people have a passion for correcting people they don’t know and have never met. As a leader, I am convinced there is a place for this. There may not be a certain error in my church, but it is out there, and I need to prepare my people to deal with it. This is right and necessary. But one of the difficulties with doing this kind of correcting of course is that because you don’t interact with people who are committing this kind of error on a regular basis, you don’t understand their arguments very well, and as a result you fight against a caricature which perhaps will help those in your congregation who are not interacting with people who have fallen for whatever particular error you are addressing, but not so much, those who are. Another difficulty with this kind of correcting is that it can shield you from dealing with some of the issues that are in your own heart. This kind of correcting can actually be popular, because no one in the church is struggling with this error, so no one feels that convicted, instead they all feel pretty good, because they haven’t fallen for the same error others have. It doesn’t mean we don’t do this kind of correcting, it just means that we as leaders must be aware of how common it is for us as humans are looking for anything outside of Jesus to justify ourselves and make ourselves feel superior to others.
Others feel more of a passion for correcting those they do have relationships with. In other words, they see errors within their own church and in the lives of individuals they are actually interacting with and talking to that must be addressed and they spend most of their time trying to speak to that. So let’s say they are talking to a person who has all their eschatology correct but is a glutton. They probably would spend most of their time talking about gluttony. Hopefully more time really about Christ and the gospel and all of that, but you get the idea. Does that mean that they don’t care about eschatology? No. Of course not. It means that they believe there is a pressing issue in front of them that shouldn’t be ignored. This kind of correction is much less popular than the former, because it deals with actual people and actual people don’t often like being corrected. When you are correcting people you don’t know, they don’t know you, and may not even know you are correcting them, and when they do respond, it is easier to write them off as just not wanting to hear the truth. But when you are directly correcting people you do know, it is uncomfortable, they take it personally, they don’t let you get away with speaking in caricatures, they might not even agree, but you know what, while there is all that going against it, what’s beautiful, is that when you are correcting people you do know about issues they are struggling with, they might just actually change.