As a pastor, I love serving in the role of encourager. One of my favorite things to do is build up the people of God through the Word. The bible says that the role of prophecy is primarily to speak unto men edification, exhortation, and comfort. I typically enjoy less the role of "rebuker" and "reprover." After all, it's much more fun to build people up than to give them a scold (I realize there are some exceptions and I will attempt to resist the need to "rabbit trail" here simply to indulge my funny bone).
But the bible says that we must "speak the truth in love". I think we sometimes have the mistaken notion that we must sacrifice truth in order to love....that somehow we have an obligation to keep people happy, even if it means watching them go down a road to destruction. God's word says that there are times when it is necessary to "wound" the pride of our friends, for their ultimate benefit.
On the other end of the spectrum is the "flatterer". His kisses, though seemingly convey friendship are deceitful. One immediately thinks of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Master with a kiss. I'm not a forty-year veteran in the ministry, but I didn't just fall off of the proverbial turnip truck either. Here are some of my observations about these things:
It's typically not the man or woman who occasionally wounds my pride that seeks to undermine my ministry efforts. Sometimes their feedback may be sharp or stinging (after all..."iron sharpens iron" according to scripture), but usually their intent is to make me a better person. But the ones I have learned to watch out for are those who make me out to be the best thing since sliced bread. Those who use excessive flattery or praise often (but not always) have a hidden agenda. It will usually come to the surface at some later point. Here is an illustration from the Word regarding "the flatterer""
Prov 27:1414 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him .(NKJ)
Those who go out of their way to use flowery language and excessive praise, prove their motives to be suspect. There's nothing wrong for giving encouragement for a job well done, or letting someone know how much you care. But when it becomes overkill, naturally it does (and should) cause suspicion to arise. In like manner, we shouldn't always get angry when someone loves us enough to tell us the truth. After all, the bible says "faithful are the wounds of a friend."
Until next time...