Bootlicking Flattery

Read: Proverbs 28:23

In the end, serious reprimand is appreciated far more than bootlicking flattery.

I met recently met with a young pastor who is on the threshold of launching a new church.  God has gifted this young man with a ton of talent and an inspiring vision. And the group of people God is bringing around him to help is pretty impressive—talented, visionary, sacrificial people. From what I can tell, this is a “God thing” and this church plant will do well.

The pastor was asking my opinion on a particular person who wants to join their leadership team—a musician who is incredibly talented and could really help them in a critical area of their worship.  But there is a check in the pastor’s spirit about this person’s spiritual character that he can’t quite articulate, so we talked about how to handle it.  The bottom line we mutually came to was to simply and honestly have a difficult conversation with this person about the cause of the pastor’s concern, put some parameters around their involvement, and hold back inviting them onto the leadership team until certain spiritual benchmarks had been met.

The pastor wasn’t sure how this man would respond, but we both agreed that this was a necessary step in the launch of the new church, a test of obedience for the pastor to see if he would indeed trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit in his leadership, a critical move that would affect the health of the new church for good or ill depending on what the pastor decided, and a holy confrontation that would either allow a potential character flaw to continue unchecked (previous leaders had turned a blind eye to it because they needed the man’s musical talent) or for the first time, deal with it decisively and redemptively.

Too often in churches, and in every other arena of life, too—in our marriages, within our homes, among our friends, with our co-workers—we don’t challenge poor character and unacceptable behavior for fear of hurting another’s feelings or perhaps even ending a relationship.  Sometimes we are unwilling to risk a difficult conversation because we crave a smooth relationship or we need their talent or their influence or their money.  But at the end of the day, we do no favors to the one who needs enough love from us that we are willing to tell them the truth.  Of course, we need to speak the truth in love and grace, under the leading and timing of the Holy Spirit, and with both a humble heart and pure motives—but we do need to tell the truth. Too much is at stake not to!

There are a lot of people—and it’s very likely that you and I are in that category—who are still carrying around character flaws, in part, because someone who was supposed to love and care enough to confront wasn’t willing to venture a direct look in the eye and say “unacceptable” to questionable behavior. That’s a tragedy, really!  Proverbs 26:28 says, A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Obviously, we are responsible before the Lord to deal with our own junk, but we also have a responsibility as family members of the human race to help the people around us deal with theirs.

I know that without providing the context for biblical confrontation—which would make this blog way too long—that what I am suggesting is potentially dangerous and damaging.  But I trust that if you are reading this blog, you probably are wise enough to use both your common sense and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to do what I am suggesting lovingly and redemptively.

Enough with the bootlicking flattery!  Real love doesn’t allow for that.

“The wounds from a loved-one are worth it; people who don’t
really love you will tell you want you want to hear.”
~Proverbs 27:6

Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into this subject, here is a source published by one church that I found helpful:


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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