Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Christian Success

…Then you will be prosperous and successful.
(Joshua 1:8 – NIV)

One sign of spiritual immaturity is the desire to minister before the time is right. People start to “get right” with God, they finally attend church regularly, and then they feel like they are supposed to go out and conquer the world for God. A person starts to really believe, and they want to put into practice the things they are learning, and that is good. They should be sharing their faith, yes, but not starting some “big idea” ministry. The problem lies in the fact that they aren’t as equipped as they think they are. They are well intentioned, but they are not ready to lead. They may be great leaders in the world, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to lead in the kingdom of God, not yet at least.

They need to learn more than simple desire for God. You have to learn to lead, and it is a process. They need to learn to serve before they can learn to lead, and they have to learn to submit before they can learn to serve. They need to learn to obey before they learn to submit. That is the order: obedience, submission, service, and then, and only then, leadership. Said another way, your actions, attitudes, availability, and then ability.

Most people understand how material stuff has a way of keeping you from God. Well it is the same with ministry stuff. We go from one bad thing to another, we trade one love of stuff for another, we feel like we have licked the covetousness bug concerning material things, just to turn around and find that bug right back on us regarding ministry things. Instead of acquiring material we acquire ministry, and we are blind to the fact that God still doesn’t have our heart, not in that area, at least.

If this is you, you need to realize that this isn’t the way to please God, by doing more stuff for God. Just as your money doesn’t buy influence with God, neither will that big plan you have. What God wants, and requires, of you is that you stay humble, and worshipful, repentant, and submissive, and in order with your family life, loving your wife or husband and respecting them, giving to your children’s lives before you give to your church life, building your personal and family spiritual life before you build your ministry life, and so forth. That is Christian success. No amount of ministry success will change that.

I challenge you to redefine what you think is Christian “success”. Have you truly replaced your understanding of worldly success with a biblical one, or are you just using the same standard and “baptizing” it with words like ministry, and victory. Look again at “acquiring” and “avoiding” – this is what most people, even after they become Christians, think victorious living is about, and they are wrong, dead wrong. Faith without works is dead, yes, but works without faith is death itself. Trying to acquire in order to please God is not faith, and doing for others without caring for home is not faithfulness. Avoiding is not faith its fear. It’s not care, its control.

Remember what Jesus said about faithfulness in another ministry (Luke 16:10-12)? What makes you think you can have this pulpit or parachurch ministry when you cannot even commit to the ministry of the local church, or your ministry at home? Learning to serve means learning to do what the church already knows it needs, not coming up with something you want to do and calling that service. Acquiring ministry is not the measure of spirituality.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

12 comments:

Margie said...

Amen

Daniel said...

WOOHOOOO!!

You nailed that - and the graphic looks good too.

Craver VII said...

That's why we are to be making disciples... not leaders. God may raise leaders, but we must be good followers, training others to be good followers.

"Follow me as I follow Christ."

Even So... said...

Indeed it is about following not leading...

Annette said...

very true.

Dan said...

Once again proving doing something that is "right" doesn't necessarily make it right. It is important that the leadership is strong enough to hold back and reprove the young eager immature christians until they are wise enough to become leaders themselves. Truly a challenge for leaders of today with everybody wanting to do their own "church" thing. We should be diligent in our prayers for our spiritual leaders and be sure to encourage them as people have a tendency to protect their ideas, right or wrong, to the utmost.

Even So... said...

Dan, I am glad you are on the team, brother...

Even So... said...

This is a repost from last year, but a message we need to remind ourselves of, and others of, continually...

Norma said...

A great message. Also applies to churches with too much "stuff." In our church, we have so many programs and staff, sometimes we can't figure out who to call to hang a poster.

donsands said...

Superb words to take seriously. Thanks.
Being a doer of these words is the kind of doing the Church needs.

Chris said...

So many times I've seen the church start a "ministry" and then fill the leadership position with whoever is willing and available.........thanks for your "sound" instruction, Pastor.

Even So... said...

Yep, we ("I" am included in "we") need to hear this more often...