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It’s Easier to Tear Down than Build Up

Tear Down Build Up

In my travels, I encountered a man whose work is demolition. When buildings are old and decrepit, or even when they just need to be removed to make way for others, his job is to destroy them and haul them away. New or old, big or small, plain or fancy—it makes no difference to him. He will blow it up, knock it down, or dismantle it piece by piece.

“Why are you in demolition?” “Because it’s a whole lot easier than construction. And it pays better too.” Fair enough. It’s good and honest work, that. Sometimes it’s necessary for the sake of safety—to remove what might collapse, injure, or kill. Sometimes it’s necessary for the sake of beauty—to remove eyesores that blight a cityscape. Sometimes it’s necessary for the sake of progress—so the old can make way for the new, the ancient for the modern, the broken down for what will soon be built up. Demolition can be good and honest work.

Later, I found myself thinking about how much more difficult it is to build than to destroy. Building is exacting work that depends upon precise measurements and careful craftsmanship. Demolition is brusque work that depends upon brute force and blunt strength. I found myself thinking about how much faster it is to destroy than to build. It may take years for a building to be constructed but just hours for it to be demolished. And I found myself thinking about how strange it is that this man had become wealthy by tearing down what others had so carefully built up.

There is a lot of that in the Christian world—a lot of demolition. In fact, there are many people who make a “ministry” out of demolishing what others have constructed. I have often cringed as I’ve seen people of little character and no accomplishments attempt to destroy what has been built by people of great character and substantial accomplishments. These people intuit that it is faster and easier to create a platform for themselves by destroying than by building—that they can earn a reputation for themselves by demolishing another person’s reputation, that they can gain a name for themselves by dragging another person’s name through the mud. The devil gives them the inspiration, the internet gives them the reach, and we give them the attention.

I’ve seen people of little character and no accomplishments attempt to destroy what has been built by people of great character and substantial accomplishments.

Of course, some ministries, like some buildings, deserve to be demolished. Some are so dangerous, so hideous, or so abhorrent that their loss is the church’s gain. Some ministers and some personalities ought to have been silenced and exposed long ago. But I have learned to be wary of those who make it their ministry to demolish people and organizations, for I have learned that they are often untrustworthy, unreliable, and unqualified. Demolition may be honest work in the world of business, but I’ve yet to see it form the basis of a valid ministry within the church.

The man whose business is demolition can surely find fault with every building and propose a reason to tear it down, for its loss is his gain. And the same is true of those who make a ministry of destruction. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to the person whose ministry is demolition, every word rings with heresy and every person resembles a heretic, for their loss is his gain, their destruction is her path to clicks, views, power, and self-importance. They have no need to commit themselves to the laborious work of putting on godly character, growing in leadership, casting vision, and persuading others to catch it. They need only dig for dirt, cast aspersions, and delight in destruction.

A lesson I have learned through long observation and hard experience is this: be wary of those whose life’s work is destruction and whose legacy is demolition. Be warier still of those who consider it their ministry and who conflate discernment with destruction. For it is hard to construct and easy to destroy. It is slow work to build up and quick work to tear down. And there are many who understand that the easiest way to gain a platform is to build it upon the rubble of someone else’s ministry or someone else’s reputation.

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