Answered Prayers for Grace and Faith–Fighting Ministry Idolatry for Purity of Heart

“I’m so bored of little gods, while standing on the edge of something large.”–David Crowder Band

What’s your draw to pastoral ministry? It’s a good question. One that, if you’ve not gotten to the bottom of yet, you should. What’s motivating you?

For several years I’ve been sensing God’s call on me and pursuing what that might look like. I get excited about God’s Word, and excited for opportunities to exercise my perceived ministry gifts. All good things.

But as an American, probably just like you, steeped in a culture promoting the so-called virtue of “self-actualization” what’s motivating a desire to serve God’s people, even at the best of times, can be a mix of “sola deo gloria” and “what’s in this for me”?

Idols are often good things, things God created to be good: money, reputation, relationships, job status, parenting…ministry. The difference is idols are good things, created things, we look to for ultimate fulfillment.

Ministry is a call to die to your finding ultimate fulfillment in ministry. Dying to the personal significance of being called pastor. Dying to perceived glamor of being the man of God. Dying to reputation. The call, is a lifetime of days which you “die every day,” as the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor 15:31).

As you are preparing for the ministry, would you consider your motives? Your purity of heart will define the quality of your ministry. And if you struggle as you struggle, perhaps you would pray something similar to the great hymn by John Newton (writer of Amazing Grace). It would be good for your…purity of heart.

I asked the Lord that I might grow,
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.It was He who taught me thus to pray,
And He I trust has answered prayer.
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request.
And by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.Instead of this, He made me feel,
The hidden evils of my heart.
And let the angry powers of hell,
Assault my soul in every part.

Yes, more with His own hand, He seemed,
Intent to aggravate my woe.
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried.
Will You pursue Your worm to death?”
“This is the way” the Lord replied,
“I answer prayer for grace and strength.”

“These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may find thy all in Me.”

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