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Pastor's Study > Ministers, Ministry and the Why of the Holy Spirit

Ministry Idol
6 Oct 2010


For those of us in ministry, we should seek to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit every moment of every day.   However like every good thing in the Christian life, it is very important why we seek the Spirit’s power and direction.  We should not seek the filling and control of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of effective ministry.   Our heart attitude, our primary motive for seeking the control of the Holy Spirit, should be intimacy with God.    Certainly obedience and effectiveness are not to be excluded.  God made us, in one sense, for good works that we might walk in them.  However, His first and highest desire is not for our works.  His highest desire is for our relationship!   Anything that comes between us and our heart love and worship for God, is an idol.

God desires foremost for intimacy with His children.   God’s desire is not unlike our desires in our relationships to earthly children.  We desire that they are obedient.  We desire that they are productive.  But, our highest desire for them is for an intimate personal active relationship.  How do you evaluate the activity where your earthly children or friends are only and always trying to do something for you, but rarely spending time with you or relating to you personally?   After a time this “ministry” takes on a formless distasteful musty odor.     God is like us in this way.  He desires not desperate dogged service and ministry but rather His highest desire for His children is that they reside in a moment by moment intimate relationship with Him.   Oh yes, God loves ministry.  But the ministry He loves must flow out of and be directed and empowered by our intimate relationship with Him.

We can easily become focused on “our ministry” and begin to lose sight of this fact.   If we leapfrog over the intimate relationship to seek and focus on the works we will sooner or later run out of gas, no matter how diligently we seek to be filled by God’s Spirit in our daily lives.   If we continue to aim at the wrong target we will soon begin to hit it.    The depletion of effectiveness happens because real, eternally significant works of God flow only from God.  Conversely, an intimate relationship with God does not flow out of our works.    Mary, said Jesus, has chosen the best thing.   We must take care so as not to strive in ministry as Martha did in serving and while focusing on good omit the best.

By an over focus on effective ministry we will inevitably deplete our focus on our relationship with God.   This is where the oil of the Holy Spirit begins to stop oiling the bearings of ministry and things begin to heat up.   The heat is designed by our Father to draw us back to our first love.  Our works, our ministry, is not the main thing.   Pride will tell us that it is the main thing.   We read this message from the Holy Spirit ….   Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will lift you up. Pride is so very dangerous, because it is pride that pushes us to produce idols.

In Charles Stanley’s  thirty “Life Principles to Live By”   his first principle is:  Our intimacy with God – His highest priority for our lives – determines the impact of our lives.

Jesus, when ask, “what is the greatest commandment” responded: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

If we are to destroy the “ministry idol”, we must keep first things first!

Yesterday morning in an A.W. Tozer devotional I read these words:   “ God is not a charity case.   He is not a frustrated foreman who cannot find enough help.     Let us remember that God never actually needed any of us – not one!    But we pretend that He does, and we make a big thing of it when someone agrees “to work for the Lord.”

It is from our intimate relationship with God that effective ministry, the work of the Holy Spirit, flows!   We must seek this intimacy with all of our heart and mind and soul and determine to keep it first.    Only then will we be positioned to be and do all that God has designed.  

Jeff Williams