Over the last few days we have looked at how ministry can become and idol in our lives. On Monday we looked at the connection between idolatry and ministry burnout. We also looked at the symptoms to look for in order to tell if your ministry has started to become an idol. On Tuesday we saw that ministry becomes an idol when we believe that our success in ministry determines our value before God. Yesterday, we looked at the danger of replacing our devotion to God with ministry activity. In today’s post I want to look at how our hearts can be deceived into believing that success in ministry will satisfy our souls. For most Pastors, this is one of the most destructive philosophies that can creep into our hearts.
Satan likes to make us think that being successful in the ministry, as defined by man, will bring satisfaction. We all have been guilty at some point or another of looking at one of the big name Pastors in the large and prosperous churches and thought to ourselves, “If only I could Pastor a church like that I would be happy.” Sadly, our denominational structures and the conferences that we attend often reinforce this concept. But the truth of the matter is that over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and listen to some of the Pastors of the largest churches in America and they all have basically said the same thing, “The larger the church, the more problems you will meet.” In fact, some of the Pastors that I’ve met who were on the proverbial fast-track to the larger churches decided to get off because they found that something was missing. After years of observation and experience, I have come to the conclusion that no level of success in the ministry can satisfy the hunger deep in our souls. The reason I say this is that our satisfaction is determined by WHO we serve, not by WHERE we are serving or WHAT we are doing.
Here is the point that I want to make, there is no amount of success in the ministry that can satisfy your heart if you are not walking with God. Our satisfaction in the ministry is not the result of WHERE we are serving or WHAT we are doing. Our satisfaction comes from WHO we serve. That is why in the Scripture when God calls someone to the ministry it is always preceded by a revelation of His divine character and nature. Think about Moses, for example, before God told called him to go to Pharaoh and secure the release of the Israelites, He first revealed His identity and character. (Exodus 3:1-12) When God called Jeremiah, He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) In this verse God reveals His omniscience and sovereignty before telling Jeremiah about the call on his life. In Acts 9, Jesus reveals Himself to Saul before calling him to the ministry. In each of these cases the emphasis is placed on WHO is doing the calling and not on WHAT He is calling His instruments to do.
Until we learn to derive our sense of purpose, security, and meaning from the right place we will continue to struggle in the ministry. This is where the ministry is inherently different from any other profession that I can think of. If you are a carpenter, for instance, at the end of the day you can look back on what you have built and see progress. When the project is complete and a new family moves into the house you can take satisfaction from the results of your work. In the ministry, however, we never get to see the finished results of our work on this side of heaven. This can be a perpetual source of dissatisfaction and feelings of failure if you forget WHO it is who has called you to this work.
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- When Ministry Becomes and Idol Pt. 1 (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- When Ministry Becomes An Idol: Part 2 (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- When Ministry Becomes an Idol: Pt 3 (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- Advice for Your First Year in a New Ministry Position (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- Dealing with Critics in Your Ministry (joebuchanan.wordpress.com)
- The Dangerous and Risky Calling of Pastoral Ministry (getreal.typepad.com)