Ministry is thrilling. Yes, there are deep and painful challenges, but we get to see the Lord change people’s lives. Ministry allows us to enjoy a front row seat to people grasping the gospel, to people being sent out on mission, and to the beauty of Christian community. Yes, there are plenty of people who throw stones and criticism, but there are also God’s people who offer encouragement and prayers and support to those who lead and serve. Because ministry is thrilling, it can be addictive. Because affirmations exist, we can long for more and more of them. We can, if we are not careful, love ministry more than the God who equipped us for it. If you love ministry more than God, these three things are true in your heart:
1. You have larger thoughts about ministry than Him.
Andrew Murray wrote, “A soul filled with large thoughts of the Vine will be a strong branch, and will abide confidently in Him.” Someone who is in awe of God thinks large and weighty thoughts about Him. If all your “big thinking” is reserved for ministry, then your heart loves it more than Him. If your mind is consumed with the next big thing you can do for God, then ministry has a tighter grip on your heart than He does.
2. You rejoice more in what you do for Him than what He has done for you.
When the disciples returned from ministering in His name, they were rejoicing. Jesus gave a strong instruction: “Don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Jesus wanted His disciples to rejoice first and rejoice most that they belonged to Him. If we rejoice more that our names are written on our ministries than in heaven, ministry is clearly our god.
3. Your joy rests in your ministry and not in Him.
If our joy rises and falls as the effectiveness or reputation of our ministry rises and falls, we are relying on our ministry to deliver our worth and joy. And not on Him.
The answer, though, is obviously not to love ministry less. The solution is not to scorn the gift the Lord has given. C.S. Lewis, in writing about our tendency to love others more than God, stated:
It is probably impossible to love any human being simply ‘too much’. We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love of God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinacy.
If ministry idolatry has your heart, don’t love ministry less. Love God more.