I have recently read a book by Henri Nouwen called, "In the Name of Jesus". If you are even slightly involved in ANY form of ministry, I highly recommend you read this book. It is very short, which is nice because, that means it's straight to the point. The book is really a speech given by Henri to a crowd of "future Christian leaders". That's Christian talk for those who felt some kind of call or tug to go into full time ministry. There is a section in this book that I want to briefly talk about.
In his book, there is a chapter entitled, "From Popularity to Ministry". There is a thought in itself. What a temptation! To do ministry to for the sake of getting the approval of everyone around us. Let's be honest, most of us who are Christians, would sadly say that the majority of the people we hang out with are Christians too. So, whenever we are involved in ministry, there is always this temptation to "perform" or "serve" in order to get our friends approval. We pick up trash, hoping that Jim, the elder, will see and think highly of us. As guys, we pick up the nearest child and swirl him around so that the beautiful, Christian woman, will see and hopefully take note. We build camps, youth groups and ministries for a pat on the shoulder instead of a smile from our Savior.
Well, I definitley dont want to be that person who is constantly pointing out problems without giving any ideas for solutions. So, let me present a couple ideas that I have either come up with or had presented to me, that I think can help us stay on the right track.
First of all, Henri Nouwen talks about ministering TOGETHER. When we minister together it is a whole lot easier for people to recognize the Body of Christ. WE come in HIS name. It's too easy for people to caught up in OUR name when we minister alone, but as a group we recognize HIM and HIM alone.
Another way to stray from a false mentality in ministry is to always remember WHO and WHOSE we are. This is helpful for two reasons. One is you will never underestimate what God can use you to do if you remember WHOSE you are, and two, you wont be as prone to ministering with the wrong motive if you remember WHO you are. You were once an ENEMY OF GOD, justified then adopted, by a HOLY, JUST, and LOVING God. If that does not remind us why we do what we do, I don't know what else to say. Henri Nouwen said it perfectly when he said, "We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for."
There are hundreds of other ways to keep a right mind set in ministry, but those are just a couple. The biggest antidote for seeking popularity in ministy is "humility". Let's save that topic for the next post...
In Him, for Him