A Church of God member who was adding a garage onto his house asked me to come to his house and help one Sunday morning. He had hired a crane to come and lift the prefabricated trusses (big, heavy wooden frames that hold up the roof) and wanted enough people to handle the job efficiently. He also indicated that there was some other work that should be finished before the crane arrived. The last time I was involved with the framing of a house, I think I was about nine years old. I do not remember much, and methods have changed a lot since then.
I arrived before the crane, but after most of the other ten men who were all hard at work at various tasks.
I said hello to the owner and some of the others whom I knew, but generally tried to stay out of the way as they were all so busy working at the task at hand. They all seemed to know far more about construction than I did.
I figured that as soon as one group finished what they were doing that somebody would start giving orders regarding the next task, and that I would be included. It never happened.
I was able to clean up some trash, take pictures for the lady of the house and a few other miscellaneous things that suited my skill level. I watched and listened and tried to figure out where I could be of help.
But the main thing I did was stand back and marvel at how well so many men from different backgrounds, some of whom were working together for the first time, could get so much done with so little direction. If I did not know who the owner of the house was, I doubt I would have figured it out from the conversations. When one group finished one task, they briefly surveyed the situation, figured out what was the next most important task, and went to work. When an especially difficult part required extra people, a word or two was exchanged, some would drop what they were doing, help on the tough part, and go right back to what they had been doing.
There were no disagreements or complaints that someone was doing their job wrong, doing too little, doing too much, etc. There were no arguments about who “gets to” do what or who is in charge. When minor mistakes were made, they were spoken of matter-of-factly, without putting down the person who made them. Yet they worked for hours without a break.
To my knowledge, everyone was there as a volunteer. Many had helped work on others’ houses in the past. Some of them helped me put on a new roof. Yet, I never once heard words like: “I’m helping you more than you helped me,” or, “after all this, you really owe me one.”
I was further amazed to find out that the men attended a variety of Church of God groups. Some were in very hierarchical, centrally-controlled groups. Others were independent groups. They did not let these issues get in the way of doing their job. Everyone spoke politely to each other and worked with amazing unity.
How Well Do Ministers Work Together?
In watching all of these men from different church groups work together, I could not help but think about the way that ministers and leaders in the various Church of God groups work with each other. Would not it be wonderful if ministers and other church leaders from different groups could work together toward an important goal as well as these men. Now in some cases, that actually happens. I know some men who have to quietly tiptoe around their headquarters regulations in order to work with other groups. But that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
Many church leaders speak disrespectfully about those in other groups, sometimes without having all of the facts. I must confess that I have been guilty of this at times and I am sorry. Some organizations, by policy, refuse to work with other groups.
Some are so concerned about “authority”, that they let it stop them from accomplishing a goal. I have often heard something like: “We would be willing to have a joint service/activity/outreach with that group, but the question is, ‘Who would be in charge?’ We believe God has commissioned us to do His work so we do not want to come ‘under them’.” So the joint service/activity/outreach never occurs.
Church leaders would do well to consider the example of these construction men. Nobody was “under” anybody else. They did not fight or “structure”. But they used their common knowledge to work together to accomplish a worthwhile goal. They were not concerned that their efforts were primarily benefitting one member of the group. They realized that they would receive a benefit somewhere down the road.
It would be wonderful if the many church groups could similarly work together on Feast sties, evangelism and schools in order to produce things that they cannot on their own. They should have the faith to know that it will benefit them someday.
Building God’s House
It is very interesting that God placed the young Jesus in a carpenter’s house rather than a religious leader’s house. Construction is a very much a reality job; if you do not do it right, the house does not last and everybody knows it was done wrong. Whereas with religion, people sometimes go on believing error for generations and many never notice their way is not working.
Who will Christ raise from the dead to rule with Him when He returns? Will He find it best to use those who can get along with each other and teach them true doctrine? Or will He use those who know the Scriptures well but have not yet learned to get along with each other? — NSE