1. GuiltThe Lord never intended for guilt to be a motivating factor in His service.Remember the difference between guilt and conviction: Guilt comes fromSatan and drives you away from God. Conviction comes from God’s HolySpirit’s working through the heart of a sinner renewed by Word andSacrament. It draws us towards God. 2. Pressure“There’s no one else to do the job” is the wrong reason to serve. If we letHim, God will provide someone to “fill the gap.” Don’t let others pressureyou into taking a job that doesn’t seem right. It may not be His time. Ormaybe the vacancy may prove the position is not necessary. Perhaps the job needs to be intentionally neglected so that others see—and respond—to the need. When such intentional neglect is done in faith—and not as an excuse for side-stepping responsibility—can be a very healthy, long term strategy for building an active ministry in which each one “does his part” joyfully (Eph. 4:16). 3. To Please PeopleWe are all tempted on occasion to please man instead of God. But Paul wrote in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
It’s OK to please yourself in knowing that you gave God your very best in carrying out your ministry for Him. But working to please other people is always the wrong reason. Beware of the signs of people-pleasing such as using title or position to get one’s way, pre-occupation with statistics, being afraid to appropriately confront, working more than stated in the call, lack of self-differentiation, passive-aggressiveness, being overly-direct, self-driven pushiness, worldly expectations, et al.
4. PrideAn ego “in check” can give you a great deal of positive drive andmotivation. An ego out of control is guaranteed to cause damage inrelationships and congregational health. Don’t volunteer for ministry inpositions of power and prestige if you know that pride is an issue for you.Volunteer for an area of pure service until your heart finds joy in thesimplicity of service just for Jesus’ sake. Ego Check: If you find it below you to clean the toilets in the church’sbathrooms, because of your “position” in the church, resign your positionand pray for a servant’s heart. Seek a position in the church that has nostatus.5. To Earn SalvationThere is nothing—nothing—you can do to earn your salvation. It is of grace, not works. Period! (Ephesians 2:8-10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing [including people-pleasing] move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord [and no one else], because you know that [it is only] your labor in the Lord [that] is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Thomas F. Fischer
*Inspired by Dan Reiland’s book, Shoulder to Shoulder (expanded by Thomas Fischer)
Note: If you haven’t read Dan Reiland’s, Shoulder to Shoulder: Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), be sure to do so. It’s a great resource for building a healthy foundation for pastoral ministry in a congregational setting. I like some of the chapter headings such as “Championing Your Pastor’s Humanity” (yes, we do make mistakes) and “Ten Keys To Connecting With Your Pastor.”
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