I’ve been doing church ministry most of my life in some form or another- about 30 years, give or take.
Even though I’ve been doing this all my life, I’ve been guilty of taking my eyes off the true purpose and goal of serving in the church. If I’m not careful, I can start to view ministry as this trophy that I’ve earned as a badge of honor. I’m tempted to take my trophy and put it up on a high shelf for all to see how much good I’m doing in my ministry.
Of course, I have sincere intentions. Yes, I want God to be glorified by my ministry. I want God to have the place of honor like the top of the trophy has a shiny star or golden statue. But, if I were really honest, I also want my ministry to be the be the pedestal on which that trophy is placed. My ministry grows out of proportion as my focus gets too big on myself and overshadows the real purpose of the trophy.
Then, something doesn’t go right. Something doesn’t feel right.
I don’t feel as effective in my ministry. I don’t get recognized as doing a good job. Or, people don’t seem to be getting anything out of my serving or contribution. At least, that’s how it seems. Am I’m losing my touch?
This causes me to step back and ask some questions. Why am I doing ministry? Am I still called to serve in this way? Does God still want me in this ministry?
It’s time to get honest. It’s time to peel back the layers and discover the motivations for why I do ministry. It’s time to examine this trophy I’ve created to see what lies at the heart of it.
Prayerfully, I seek God for the answers. And, He graciously, lovingly gives them.
Ministry is not about me.
First, Ministry is not about what I like to do.
The purpose of my serving in ministry shouldn’t be because it’s something I’m passionate about doing. True, one’s greatest ministry can take place where there is great passion. It’s totally ok to be passionate about serving, but it shouldn’t be the motivation for why I’m participating.
Take, for example, planning retreats and conferences for women. I LOVE it. I love all aspects of it- the planning, the details, shaping a schedule, bringing women together for a specially crafted time together…..all done by me!
I have to stop and ask myself this question: Do I love planning the event, and everyone telling it was great, and that I am great? OR Do I want these women to have a sincere encounter with God? The first makes my ministry the focus of the “trophy”, and the second makes the focus on God and His Glory.
Second, Ministry is not about my gifts, skills, or talents.
I love playing music and singing so I’ll do that for ministry. I love teaching, so I’ll teach. I love cooking, so I’ll cook as my ministry and so on. God has given me some wonderful talents and abilities. I have been given the opportunities to develop skills to be used for Him. But, ministry is not a venue for using my skills and talents. Ministry is not supposed to be a place to display my gifts on a platform. Again, the subtle trap I fall into is that using my gifts for others to see ends up being my goal. I may not say this out loud, but it’s in my heart. Again, God generously gives gifts and talents to equip me for ministry, but those gifts are not the primary purpose of ministry. They aren’t meant to be seen for their own sake. Those gifts, skills and talents are meant to be used as the vehicle for loving people and lighting their way to God’s Glory.
Finally, ministry is not about making me feel good or special or admired or accepted.
Somewhere deep down, if I’m really honest, I bring to light what I’m really thinking and feeling. If I do this ministry, I’ll feel good about myself. God will accept me. I’ll get accepted by all those people around me. This trap is the biggest and easiest of them all, because I want my ‘trophy’ to get the most attention. I do ministry because I want to feel better about myself. Sure, I want to do this for God, and I want to help people. But, I also want to be liked or admired for doing it. I want to feel successful and useful. I want people to cheer for me. Somehow, when they do this, it must mean that God approves!
In truth, all those benefits can and do happen. God is so gracious. He allows me to reap all the benefits of working for Him. But then, I forget what’s it supposed to be all about. I forget the goal of ministry is not to make me feel good. The goal is to bring people to God!
True ministry is an overflow from being with God.
I spend time with God, and then He uses my gifts and talents as a vehicle to get His Love to other people. The cool bonus is that I really love it, and it makes me feel good doing it. The real payoff, though, is seeing God move and standing amazed at what He can accomplish through me. My true motivation, then, for pursuing ministry is to see other people’s lives changed! When that happens, I don’t need for my ministry trophy to be seen! I push that trophy back to its proper place so that God gets all the glory and attention!
What about you?
Do you love ministry? Do you love what you do in church? If you were honest, would it be possible that some of your motivations could be self serving and trying to promote your own trophy?
Would you like to pursue this self examination further?
Here’s a small study series called “3 Signs You Need to ReNew Your Ministry”. In it, I ask you 3 questions to help you reflect on why you are serving in the church. This study is an overflow of asking myself these same questions in order to put my ministry in its proper place. I hope it’s helpful to you! Sign up here: “3 Signs You Need to ReNew Your Ministry”