A Story About Muddied Motives
In 2003, I started a writing and speaking ministry with the right motives. I wanted to serve God; I cared about making His name great. A few years later, it became more about marketing campaigns, reaching more people, and succeeding in a career rather than about pleasing Christ. I am not happy to admit that my motives got muddied with worldly ideals. Not coincidentally, this is just about the time I lost the joy of serving through using my gifts and talents.
God started pressing the issue of my motives. I felt Him calling me to a place of deeper commitment in which I would be willing to die to my desires and take a long, hard look at why I was serving. I realized that although I started ministry with pure motives, I had gotten off track—and frankly, I was miserable.
About this time, I did a study in Galatians and reflected on Paul’s life. I was reminded Paul was called through revelation by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). He received this revelation that He might preach the gospel to the gentiles (Galatians 1:16). Paul did not receive a doctrine, a church membership, or a certification from study. He received a call from Christ. It hit me: Jesus is the prerequisite for all authentic service or ministry for Christ.
This challenged me. I wrote in my journal:
When the world’s ways to make ministry better through this tactic, that program, that campaign means that we lose the heart of ministry, which is Christ, then we have missed God’s point.
But it’s not easy to keep Christ as the heart of what we do, is it? It’s not easy because this means that if it’s all about Jesus (no matter where or how we serve), and it’s not about our soothing our ego, succeeding in our latest marketing campaign, or reaching more numbers, then we must face ourselves, and die to our desire for our own glory. We must let God lead. Ouch! Our affections must be purified. And we have to ask ourselves, Do I love what I am doing more than I love Christ? Is my affection for my purpose, or is it for Him?
Will I put Christ first? No matter what I have been called to. . . to sing, teach, design, or work in the world some other way, offering my vocational or spiritual gifts, will I serve rather than choose to be served? Without being connected to the Head, which is Christ, my vocational or spiritual calling is vanity, a chasing after the wind, in which all of my best efforts, if not built on the foundation which is Jesus, will be burned up when I stand before Him—and I will receive nothing. Absolutely no reward for my service (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Why are you serving? Why do you do what you do? Is the point of your purpose to serve yourself? Or, do you desire to serve Christ? What motivates you?
I pray you discover that in answering these questions, that whatever you do, you will do it all for His glory because you are in love with Him. This is the way to true joy.