I find myself asking why am I doing this or that a lot these days. What we do, when we do it, how we do it, no matter what it is, from making a meal, to reading a book, is all rooted in what our motivation is for the doing the action. Even the smallest of actions has a root cause to it. This has had me thinking, a lot!
So the big question is who am I trying to impress? Me? Those around me? God? Motives are the real deal, the core of the matter, man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart of a man. So with that in mind I have been looking at what motivates me to do ministry? Asking the hard questions, what is it that I am looking for? Why do I want to do this work? Struggling with these questions I have come to some cold hard facts. In ministry the motivation of approval, or acceptance can’t be used to create, maintain or sustain ministry. Sure in the power of the human experience anyone can begin a work, but it will come at a cost, and the end result will be a man made monument to self. If you start something looking for approval, once you get it, you will want to maintain it, that leads to compromise. Making the obsession with approval the purpose vs the glory of God. The Lord said “A man needs to count the costs of building a house before he starts, so that once he has begun, he does not run out of funds, only after laying the foundation, and then be left to open shame, unable to complete what he started”. While the idea and context of this verse deals with salvation it has an application with motives as well.
So I have started to “count the costs”
Looking into my life and motives for ministry. I’m sure of my calling, I know the Lord has called me to a work, we all have a calling. But to be able to be used to perform the work, I need to understand why and how I am to complete the work. If I do it in my own power or allow my motivation to come from the wrong reasons then I will sorely fail. This will also leave a monument to open shame.
We all have seen houses, buildings that have been started and not finished. They stand as a constant reminder of, what could have been, what might have been, only if. They become a place of doubt and an indictment against anyone who comes along later to create a similar building. The community doubts with all natural outward appearances that it, too, will fail, just as the one before it.
Through this process I have discovered, understood in a real way, that, we are accepted, grafted in, there can be no more work to make anything we do to entice God to look on us with favor. He has already imparted that to us, even so by making his thrown room available to us, where we can cry out to him, “daddy, daddy”. Coming from a background where I seldom had approval from father and mother figures in my life because of my being orphaned it confused my thought process when it came to my relationship with Jesus and the Father. I find myself at times striving, wondering, hopping for approval for works that I can do vs. doing and being motivated out of a Love for God. Wrapping myself in the cloak of “If I can accomplish this then God will love me more and I will win his approval”. Not that I think I can earn salvation, I full well know that only the work of the cross that Jesus did can accomplish that. But there is a longing to be approved by God, that my value can some how be derived by the work that I do for him.
This is trying to build on the foundation that Jesus had built. We all need to allow God to finish the work he has begun in us. Let the master builder raise the walls, place the roof and then come and take HIS bride home.
So what are the proper motives for ministry? where do we need to place our heart when it comes to the WHY of ministry? I think they are simple. To Abide, gratitude, and to glorify God. Since we have been accepted and adopted we no longer need to strive to be approved. We simply need to abide in the love and admonition of the Lord. Living in his house tending to the things of God because it pleases Him. Living in gratitude of all that he has done for us without any merit on our part. To simply and humbly glorify God, to set our own personal motives of gain aside, and to willingly lay down our life to prefer our brother, and enemy, before ourselves. To remove any attention from us, only pointing to the Son, that the Son will glorify the Father.
Ministry should be like a good sound man at a concert. When you go to see your favorite band, you hear the music and enjoy the show, but what you don’t realize, what you don’t think about, is the sound man, he is working the board, making sure everything is at the right levels and sounds right. Jesus is the singer and we have the privilege of working the boards. If the sound man makes a mistake, we all hear the feedback, and say, “what in the world is that guy doing”. Wrong motives are like feedback, they draw the attention away from Jesus, and place them on us.
Know that “our calling and election is without regret, and he will continue to perform that which he began in us until its completion”, but for my life, for your life, to be a great concert, free of feedback, we have to yield to him with the right motives in all that we say or do.
All for him, for all he’s done.