Thursday, July 21, 2016

Beware Ministry Machismo

 The following is a quote from a book called "Zeal without Burnout" with the subtitle "Seven Keys to a Lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice."

I found myself greatly bothered by others in ministry with long prayer letters which were really bragamonies (Bragging testimonies). Then I discovered I was the worst offender and in my pride I was guilty on all counts. This quote really opened my eyes:

"Until recently, I lived in the centre of London, where, as in many vibrant cities, there is a somewhat cocky workplace machismo. "I'm working harder than you," is the culture, "and therefore I am more important than you. Indeed, it is necessary for me to let you know how hard I work, for only then will you truly appreciate how important I must be."
      It is not surprising that we can detect this culture seeping from the world into the church. We get kudos from how hard we are seen to be working.

Please pray for me. It's been very, very busy for the past few years. I do have to work, long hours, travel a lot, get rather little sleep, and often have to sacrifice my day off.

That is what I say with my lips, but the subtext in my heart may be this:

I want you to realize that I and my ministry are very 
important - and probably more important than you and your ministry. 
Such ministry machismo is proud and dangerous. To neglect sleep, Sabbaths, friendships and inward renewal is not heroism but hubris. It is to claim that I am a level or two above the normal members of the human race. When a fellow-Christian lets slip how very hard they are working, and that they haven't had a proper day off for a while, we need to find a way of saying to them (in love), "You are behaving like an arrogant fool."

     What is more, they will not just harm themselves. A friend in ministry wrote to me that one of the hardest things in his near-breakdown was "feeling like I was being expected to work at least as hard as I was, rather than being encouraged to be realistic and take a rest."

     I am so grateful that when I was an assistant minister, I was under a wise leader who understood this so well. He had a remarkable ability to work very hard. He guarded his days off and was very disciplined, and he certainly could work harder than me.

     But he never put pressure on me to work as hard as he did.

When I needed a break, he actively encouraged me to take as much break as I needed. I knew he thought none the worse of me for that. I thank God for that godly example and oversight. Those of us in leadership should try to emulate with the expectations we lay - or do not lay - on other."''''''
                                                                                                        Christopher Ash

Zeal without burnout by Christopher Ash, The Good Book Company 2016, pages 77 bottom to 79

Mindsets are powerful things but also very dangerous tools of the enemy Satan. If He can get us thinking a certain way he can cause many problems and divisions. He's being doing that for years.

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!...Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky..." Philippians 2:5-16 NIV

 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Father forgive me a servant with a prideful heart. I ask of you to change my heart that has wrong motives and false mindsets. Help me to have the mindset of Christ Jesus. Help me to do everything without grumbling and thinking I'm working harder than others and more tired than others. Help me to get my eyes off others and keep them on you. Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Thank you LORD. In Jesus name, Amen.