In my last post, I kicked off a series on Christian leadership in the church. The question arises: “Why another blog about this stuff and why me?” I’ve always had a keen desire to see others grow in Christ and serve His Bride, the Church. But, my motives are always mixed and, if we can be honest, you may be serving Jesus out of a variety of not-so-Biblical or virtuous motivations, too. Let’s face it, if we were as pure in our devotion to Christ and His Kingdom as we like to believe or pretend, Jesus wouldn’t have spent so much time warning us to guard against pride, greed or selfishness:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
(Matthew 23:2–3 ESV)
The New Testament letters to the churches are full of practical and pointed instructions to practice what we preach:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Paul, the apostle in Philippians 2:3–5 ESV
So, why am I embarking on this open-ended series of posts about ministry in the Church? What are my motives? In my last post, I was reminded by Richard Baxter that:
The ministerial work must be carried on purely for God and the salvation of souls… Hard studies, much knowledge, and excellent preaching, if the ends be not right is but more glorious hypocritical sinning. Reverend Richard Baxter1
The same ideal holds for blogging, particularly when addressing people I love. Some of these loved ones I’ve known and some I’ve never met. I will be pointing to examples that illustrate the big idea or relating anecdotes from experience (mine and others) involving real people: some I’ve known personally and others are who are complete strangers (I’ll explain this in a forthcoming post). My motives must be primarily “for God and the salvation of souls” and not some sort of cathartic experience or desire to tell all: and, certainly not to entertain or gain followers! If I don’t blog out of that ideal, this would just be “more hypocritical sinning.” I’ll have to carefully examine my heart and mind each time I click the “publish” button in WordPress.
So, what are some relatively harmless, but possibly less pure motives that may get in the way, as I move forward?
- I suppose there is a part of me that wants to make use of or see others benefit from lessons learned in obscurity, serving small numbers, in out of the way places. I would like to think that my time serving Jesus as an elder2 in small churches or as a leader of an apologetics ministry has not been insignificant or squandered or, worst of all, completely irrelevant and a waste of time!
- I think I have something to offer others – perhaps a fresh perspective or a valuable lesson learned from life experiences. I mean, why blog if I don’t think I have some unique contribution to share?
- I want to sharpen and improve my writing skills, in order to work on some book projects I have in mind.
Those are just a few. But, here’s the point: we all approach everything we do with a variety of purposes or desires, some positive and some negative. To be honest, sometimes we bring an agenda. But, my goal is to eliminate the harmful or sinful desires and minimize the more benign, in order to “do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
So, that’s what I will be aiming at.
Years ago, when I was seeking advice from a seasoned leader about serving a small church and how that all related to the big picture, he shared this encouraging and insightful observation:
But I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be doing what I am doing now, nor would I be effective doing what I am doing, were it not for the years of experience as a pastor of a small in your face church that was situated behind enemy lines. I think students are now connecting because they can sense that it is for real.3
I’ll talk more about that in the next post.
- Baxter The Reformed Pastor pg. 111 [↩]
- The New Testament uses the terms elder, pastor, overseer or their various other translations, such as shepherd or bishop, interchangeably. This NT vocabulary serves to illustrate or emphasize the character and various functions of the leader(s) in local Christian communities. So, when I speak of elders, pastors or overseers on this blog, I am referring to the same leaders within a church – an elder is a pastor and an overseer. [↩]
- a personal friend, who pastored a small church and is now teaching and administrating at a large Christian University [↩]