Norm was on the core team that originally planted Community Covenant Church (CCC) ten years ago. He knew from early on in ministry that a lead role was what he was both gifted for and passionate about. He had a vision for reaching people in his city with the gospel that had transformed his own life.
Norm had attended some seminars and done some reading about fallen pastors who let ministry take over their lives and he was adamant that this was not going to happen to him. Godly ambition has an insidious way of morphing into selfish ambition.
Despite Norm’s awareness of the danger of ministry becoming the big E on the eye chart instead of Jesus himself, and despite the regular warnings from his life coach, the shift slowly and subtly began to take place.
It became evident in staff meetings, the staff felt that Norm was becoming increasingly more driven, more impatient with what was happening, and more dissatisfied with how fast things were happening –or not happening. They were spending less time in prayer and in giving thanks for what Jesus was obviously doing at CCC. They used to spend lots of time celebrating and enjoying each other and what they were called to do. They were truly friends in ministry and often spent
time together outside normal responsibilities. Now the staff felt as if they were business partners with all eyes on the bottom line instead of ministry partners with all eyes on Jesus. The ministry became increasingly about results and less about relationships.
Norm and his team were giving their life and love to the work of the Lord while he neglected the Lord of the work.
Henri Nowen once said that the main obstacle to loving God is service for God. This is ministry idolatry –not agreeing with Jesus that he has the rightful first place in our affections. Ministry idolatry is becoming increasingly widespread in evangelical Christianity, reaching epidemic proportions. It is showcased at network and denominational gatherings, where the focus and conversation is often not about Jesus but about us and what we are accomplishing and achieving.
Leaders must guard against ministry becoming a mistress. A mistress is someone who takes the place that only your wife should occupy. Ministry must never take the place of Jesus himself in your heart and in your values. As 1 John 5:21 says, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” Our hearts are idol factories, and ministry, for many leaders, is the king of idols.
Think about this:
1) Who have you allowed to confront you when they see that you are pushing Jesus to the side and allowing ministry to sit on the throne of your life?
can you look for to tip you off that you are pushing Jesus off the throne? For example: your thoughts, lack of Sabbath, being more driven that led, how do you treat your ministry partners, etc.
*Adapted from the book
Mistakes leaders make/Dave Kraft/Crossway Publishing.