As they note, it is easy to become addicted to the approval and applause that often comes to those in ministry. What pastor doesn't enjoy being complemented and praised when he or she serves people well? We all want to be appreciated for a job well done. The problem comes when we pursue that appreciation and it becomes more important to us than even our relationship with God. The authors caution, "If we only rejoice in God because of what He is doing through us and not because of what He has already done for us, we cherish our ministry more than Him."
They remind us of the time the disciples returned from ministry filled with joy because even the demons had submitted to them. Jesus responded, "Don't rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." If we do not love God more than our ministries, those ministries have become idols in our lives.
The book lists five questions to ask to help ministers determine if their ministry has become an idol. They are good questions we should probably ask ourselves regularly.
- How much of my contentment is connected to the tide of my ministry influence?
- Do my prayers reflect that I am more thankful for the salvation He has provided for me or for the ministry He has given me?
- If I had to choose, which would I prefer: a closer walk with Jesus or a more "effective ministry?"
- If my ministry were suddenly taken from me, would I still rejoice that my sins are forgiven?
- Do I seek God only for His blessing and direction or do I also seek God simply for Him?
I strongly encourage you to get and read this book. I'm only 50 pages into it, and it has already blessed me more than anything else I've read this year.