August 2015

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
(Philippians 4:13)

Greetings in the name of Christ;

Thoughts on Positive and Negative influences

I have been blessed by being appointed to two great churches, Talihina FUMC and Tuskahoma FUMC, where rarely do I hear a negative thought, and only then when it is offered in a constructive nature. However, as I attend various meetings and other gatherings throughout the Oklahoma UMC conference, I am exposed to a number of Pastors and church leaders who are faced with very different congregations and communities. Many of the churches represented by these Pastors and leaders are having difficulties and I have found that the common denominator of the issues within these churches is the number of people who are negative about everything.

Negative people—we all know them. Chances are good that, at one time or another we have been one.

Negative people are negative in their thinking: “It will never work!” Negative people are negative in their speech: “This stinks!” Negative people are negative in their attitude: “I don’t have to do what you want!”

Negative people are the pessimists of the world. When meeting people they don’t shake hands, they shake heads. The voyage of life finds them constantly seasick and unhappy.

A business can suffer from negative people. A negative attitude can be very destructive in regards to production and profits.

A family can be devastated by negativity. Parents who are always negative toward their children can ruin a child’s self-esteem. “You’ll never amount to anything!” “You can’t do anything right!” In the same way, spouses can be negative toward one another. Rather than providing encouragement, they specialize in criticism and nit picking.

Sports teams should not expect to win if the players are constantly negative toward the team’s ability. And, of course, we know about negative fans when their team is not winning.

Unfortunately, local churches can also suffer from negativity. When church growth is slow, attitudes toward the local work can be negative. When the sermon is always too long, negative comments can be heard. When elders change something, negativity is expressed. Too much negativity in the local church takes the wind out of the sails and throws the work off course.

Negative members are often the first to complain, “It will never work!” when any new program is tried. They always have a better idea. The negative person is often one who never teaches, never leads singing, and never preaches. Their specialty is criticizing those who do.

The complaining heard from negative members often comes when things are not done, or do not go, as they had hoped. This happened with Israel on their journey to the Promised Land. When the road got tough and conditions were not as they hoped or expected, they complained. Paul used their complaining as a warning to us: “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” (1 Corinthians 10:10)

To the Philippians, Paul wrote: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14) In a similar way, the apostle Peter gave us these words of instruction: “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” (1 Peter 4:9)

So no one will complain, I should also include these words from James: “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” (James 5:9)

No, this article is not meant as a complaint about complainers or negative people, and no, I am not seeking to address a specific individual or situation. It is simply meant as a reminder to each of us to stay positive. Negativity in our lives robs us of joy, energy, and hope. Face life with a positive attitude. The apostle Paul said it well: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)”

In faithful service,
Don Baker

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