7 Disastrous Results of Letting Your Personal Fulfillment Drive Your Ministry

ministry-self-fulfillment

I was struck by something Ray Ortlund said in a blog post recently:

“I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and get noticed.”

It’s as if men get in the ministry and treat the first few years like the kid who shoots hoops in his driveway, imagining he is LeBron James. Eventually, he hopes, he’ll get the chance to really wow someone.

The problem is that pastors often use ministry for their own personal fulfillment and success. Here are a few disastrous results that follow.

1. You turn your congregation into a means to the end of your self-fulfillment. Rather than serving your congregation for their benefit, you will expect them to benefit you.

2. You become discontent with your current role in ministry, and look for the next step up the pastoral ladder. After all, you’re so much better than where you are now, right?

3. Your self-esteem becomes the barometer for your ministry. And anything that negatively affects your self-esteem becomes your enemy in ministry.

4. TED Talks influence your philosophy of ministry more than the Bible. You’ll be more interested in practical effectiveness than a theological foundation.

5. You stop viewing your ministry within the scope of God’s kingdom. Your ministry becomes the means through which you fulfill your life plan, rather than a means by which God works out his redemptive plan.

6. Your definition of ministry success is focused on you. Your goals are way too small if your idea of “arriving” as a pastor is a book deal and some conference speaking gigs.

7. Your identity becomes rooted in your ministry growth. Your identity, of course, is really in Christ, and any growth in ministry should be a by-product of your relationship with him, and ultimately from his sovereign grace.

So what should pastors do? The solution Ortlund provides is to be content to inch along in ministry, serving your congregation one hospital visit, one prayer, and one counseling session at a time. He saw this in his own father’s ministry:

“But what impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the payoff. This is the pastoral ministry that brings Jesus into the world today.”

Ironically, the kids that make it to D-1 or pro levels are the ones who slog through jump shot drills, free throws, and sprints when no one is looking. Not the ones who practice the miracle shots from the edge of the driveway.

That said, don’t succumb to the 8th disastrous result of letting self-fulfillment drive your ministry: “You hope God will reward your daily slogging with a book deal and conference speaking gigs.”

(Image credit)

Comments

  1. This something I always have to keep in check for myself (Not hat I qualify as a young pastor) I think we have to keep a balance between the passion we have for our call, and the humility required to live it out. Also as someone who once struggled with a lack of confidence it is easy for success to go to my head. I have to remember I am never above cleaning the bathrooms, and changing a diaper in the nursery if need be.

  2. It’s just all very sickening. Think SMALL and trust a big God.

  3. Of course Christians have created the pastoral ladder, or if they didn’t create it, then they have certainly embraced it, I have a belief that satan created it and in their pride Christian leaders have followed (in general terms). I’m pretty sure Paul the Apostle and many other saints from bygone days would have rejected many of today’s conferences. The American dream is to make something of yourself, to be successful, God’s desire is that you follow him and not the world. The pastoral ladder, that we have invented would appear to be more worldly than Godly. I can find a conference every weekend of the year, finding a disciple of Christ who has submitted to the Lord is a lot more difficult to find.

  4. John Piper once said something that speaks well to this issue: that even a pastor whose sermons are viewed by people all over the world (as his were) should not preach for that whole eventual audience, but rather preach for the congregation over whom he has responsibility. It’s a good word for keeping pastors focused on their primary duties of ministry.

  5. This fed my soul. A good checklist to review regularly even for guys a few years deep in ministry

  6. Eric,

    Seeking for personal fulfillment is actually something that permeates the church.

    With 32 years as a believer in Jesus, the Christ, I have come to the sad conclusion that the church in our day and age has drifted very far from the calling and purpose that God has placed upon her.

    God’s two major purposes are to have a people of His own who:

    1. Are utterly committed to the fulfillment of HIS purposes and agenda.
    2. Show forth the very life and nature of His Son in the midst of a sick, dying world.

    Although we tend to give a hearty “Amen” to those purposes, we’re not very good at living and walking it out.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 7 Disastrous Results of Letting Your Personal Fulfillment Drive Your Ministry […]

  2. […] this very concise article the author talks about the dangers that come to young Pastors who are enticed by the possibilities […]

  3. […] 7 Disastrous Results of Letting Your Personal Fulfillment Drive Your Ministry “It’s as if men get in the ministry and treat the first few years like the kid who shoots hoops in his driveway, imagining he is LeBron James. Eventually, he hopes, he’ll get the chance to really wow someone.” […]

Speak Your Mind

*