Ministry is a funny thing. By definition it is about serving Christ. But, just as the world has many false gods so do those in professional ministry. These gods often take the place of or get in the way of the God we are here to serve. They can creep up on us slowly but once entrenched they become agents of deceit that turn our eyes from the One we serve to ourselves because each of these false ministry gods are ultimately about us. They are not about Jesus.
The false god of success. We want ministry results but those very results when they become our obsession turn our eyes from Jesus to whatever definition of success we are measured by. The church becomes about numbers and programs and not about Jesus. We start to measure our dollars and budgets and not life transformation. Our buildings, facilities, programs, budgets, staff, technology, cutting edge strategies become our gods and lost in our drive for success is the one we serve, Jesus.
The false god of recognition. Lets be honest. Most of us like recognition and some of us crave it. And ministry is a perfect platform for it because in addition to being somebody, we have the extra benefit of being able to say we do it for Jesus which is considered noble and self sacrificing. Actually, when recognition is our god, it is self aggrandizement and selfishness hiding behind the guise of ministry. The need for recognition from others rather than the smile of Jesus is a false god and one that is dangerously seductive. Whenever our ministry begins to feed our ego we are on dangerous ground.
The false god of power. This is a common false god of those in ministry leadership. It starts innocently enough perhaps - we need to lead. That leadership, however, brings with it power and the ability to control events and people. That power can become an instrument to fuel our false god of recognition and success and it is a great platform to exercise control over others. We can easily enough hide behind our mandate to lead and all the while feed a desire to exercise power over others. Ironically, the one we lead on the behalf of, Jesus, served those He led rather than controlling them.
The false god of money. Ministry needs a certain amount of funding but that resource can easily become a god that drives us. When we start to pursue ministry funding more than we do Jesus, we substitute our resources for His power and provision. We become proud of our budgets and ability to raise funds and start to rely on our funding more than the One who is the ultimate source of all that we need. If only I had more funds we think, I could do more ministry when in reality if we had more of Jesus and His power we would see more true ministry fruit.
False gods are substitutes for Jesus whether we pursue them in the guise of ministry or in the secular arena. Those in ministry are no less susceptible to the lure of false gods than the rest of society. We simply have a different platform from which to pursue them. More importantly, however, since we do it under the guise of serving Jesus, they are perhaps even more devious and dangerous and harder for us to spot in our own lives.
The issue of our deepest motivations is one that only we and Jesus can truly know but if we fool ourselves we are chasing something other than the Jesus we think we are serving. The only antidote is staying close to Jesus, constantly staying in tune with the motivations that drive us and surrounding ourselves with people who can speak truth into our lives. And, we need to be constantly aware that we are always in danger of pursuing false gods rather than Jesus.