In his famous work, City of God, Augustine penned this challenge: No one can be a good bishop if he loves his title and not his task. It is entirely possible for a ministry leader to love title more than task. Because we can make idols of anything, we can certainly make our titles the thing that defines us and gives us our worth. But, according to Augustine, a ministry leader who loves title more than task is not a good ministry leader.
If we love our title more than our task our primary motivation is ourselves, that we will be seen by others as important rather than serving others. If we love our titles more than our task we love the prestige of our positions more than the people are positions are designed to serve. If we love our titles more than our tasks we expect people to serve us because of our position rather than us using our position to serve.
How can we evaluate ourselves? How can we recognize a drift in our hearts towards loving our position and title more than what our position and title is for? Here are three warning signs:
1. You only love people from the stage.
It is easier to love people from the stage. We do all the talking up there. We don’t have to get into the pain and struggles of the people we are called to serve if we only love people from the stage. But staying on the stage will inevitably lead to loving title more than task. Stepping into the lives of others reminds us why we do what we do, and keeps our hearts close to people.
2. You don’t equip others.
There is one task associated with the role of pastor – equipping others for ministry so the body of Christ may be built up. Pastors not commanded to perform for others, but to prepare others for the ministry the Lord has given them.
3. You get bored with the basics.
Effective and faithful ministry is filled with basics – essential tasks that ensure the leader and the ministry is healthy. Loving Jesus, staying true to His Word, and developing others are not really flashy but save both the preacher and the hearers. If the basics are boring and you start “needing some else, something more,” it is likely your heart is starting to prefer your title to your task.
Both the leader and the people suffer when titles are loved more than tasks. May the Lord grant us the grace to constantly repent of loving our titles more than our tasks.