I tell my Sunday school students almost every week that the purpose of their lives is to know God and make Him known. At the age of 10, they’re able to remember and mimic what I say, but I pray that one day they will understand in their hearts that there is truly nothing more important.
Like you, I love the Lord and desire to serve Him with my life. I yearn to know Him better each day, and to make Him known through the way that I live my life. In every word, action and attitude that I put out there, I want to be Christ-like.
There are times, however, when I look at my own life that I wonder if I’m serving Him with the wrong motivation. I’ve been involved in church activities since I was very young, and been entrusted with spiritual responsibilities for a long time, so how do I distinguish between self-motivated ministry and gospel motivated service?
Here are some tell-tale signs that may help you discern your own motivations:
When your ministry is Holy Spirit led:
- You are equally joyful in the successes of others’ ministry as your own because you understand that you’re all working towards the same goal
- You are ready to take on whatever opportunities the Lord gives you, not because they’re the most convenient or most suited to your life, but because through it you can make an impact for the Kingdom of God
- You are not looking for recognition or applause.
- You are able to make sacrifices in your school/work/family life for your ministry because you live with an eternal perspective
- You are okay with things not working out perfectly because you understand that it’s not your own reputation that’s at stake. If the Lord asks you to do something, you just do it.
- You are constantly in prayer, and in the Word. You are united in purpose and seeking godly advice from the spiritually mature believers in your life.
When your ministry is self-motivated:
- You are upset if you are not included when a ministry opportunity comes up
- You want to promote your visibility and that of your ministry, and seek opportunities to do so
- You are offended if responsibility is taken away from you and given to someone else
- You do not have a desire to pour into the next generation of leaders. You are not willing to pray for them that they would do a better job than you’ve been doing and develop the ministry further.
- You make decisions and minister without prayer and clear guidance from the Lord.
- You feel like you do it best, and everything works better when you’re in charge
When our lives and ministries are fueled by a desire to promote ourselves rather than to promote God, we are in dangerous territory. This is a trap that even the most seasoned leaders can inadvertently fall into. In the hustle and bustle of ministry, we lose sight of the Lord and get into situations where we don’t even realize that we ARE seeking to serve ourselves. And Satan is just giddy because he’s able to use us in that moment to make an impact for HIS kingdom through our lives. We’ve unintentionally become double agents working within the walls of the church under the appearance of ministry.
Deceived people don’t realize that they are deceived. Is it possible that YOU are being deceived?
Look over the lists above. Which category do you fall into?
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is……If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward……If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3: 13-15)
God has given believers the privilege of serving Him, but He needs people who sincerely seek to bring glory to Him.
The task ahead of you is nothing compared to the power behind you. If you’re unplugged from your source today, I encourage you to take the time to plug back in. Because if your relationship with God is not the thing that motivates your ministry, your ministry will count for nothing in eternity.