Last week, I talked about how we can get so caught up in working for Christ that we don’t realize that we are actually getting in the way of what God wants to accomplish. If you missed that post, you can read it by clicking here.
As I mentioned last week, I myself had been in this pattern for many years before I realized that I was doing good things for the wrong reasons. And I still have to be careful or I start sliding into that way of thinking again. So I wanted to share three indications that our spiritual work might actually be getting in God’s way (and this is not an exhaustive list – there are probably lots more:)
- WE JUDGE OUR MINISTRY SUCCESS BY THE REACTION OF OTHERS
- WE ONLY SEEK GOD’S GLORY AS A BY-PRODUCT OF THE ACTIVITY
- THERE IS CONFUSION IN THE MINISTRY
When Moses killed the Egyptian in Exodus 2, the Bible says that “he looked this way and that” before doing it. Many teachers have pointed out that he probably should have looked UP! If Moses had been confident that his actions merited God’s approval, he would have been indifferent to other people’s reactions. Their opinions would have been irrelevant. As a worship leader, how many times do I start judging my ministry by the visible reaction of the worshippers? And that can be true of any ministry. We are not called to commit ourselves to pleasing people. We are called to commit ourselves to pleasing God! He then takes care of the consequences and commits us where He wants us.
This one comes from a recent James MacDonald blog post that hit me square in the face. Go read it here. I can’t count the times that I’ve thought or said, “I hope God is glorified through” whatever work I’m doing. I might even pray, “God be glorified as we lead worship today.” Pastor James showed me that when we do a ministry activity hoping that God’s Glory will be a by-product, we are missing the point. We are called to pursue the manifest glory of God and the ministry “things” are the by-product of that seeking. Boom.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to keep distance between themselves and the ark of the covenant. (Joshua 3:4) I used to think that this was only because they could not draw too near to the holiness of God. But Major Thomas in The Saving Life of Christ points out that if they had surrounded the ark, no one would have known which way to go. In his words, “there would have been nothing but confusion, with about 50 sub-committees all deliberating the issue! Learn to give God room to maneuver.” If we are making our ministry plans and then hoping God will be on our side, then there will be lots of confusion. If we are being still long enough to see where God is at work and then joining in, there will be unity of purpose and clarity.
My prayer is that we will stop trying to “do” everything and learn to “be” dependent on Christ working and living through us. When you are seeking God Himself instead of simply trying to be busy for Him, you will start to see some amazing things. So get out of the way!