During my trip to The Gospel Coalition Conference this year, I had an opportunity to meet with a mentor via Serge.org . This mentoring session was very fruitful for me personally, but I also wanted to share more about something that was repeated a few times throughout the conference.
It was a reminder to us as leaders that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. But why?
Through my Serge.org mentor, I was introduced to the idea that leaders can get so caught up in the success and failure model in regards to ministry that we can forget the Gospel.
Have you ever said or thought:
Well, I must be doing a good job because God has blessed our ministry with success.
God must be blessing our work, because He has been providing for our needs.
The Lord’s blessing must be on our ministry, because we have seen an increase in numbers.
I must be doing something wrong, I just can’t seem to get any momentum on this project.
The Lord’s favor must not be on this ministry, because we are not growing… we are shrinking.
What is the problem with these thoughts?
They are works based, not faith based. They imply that success or failure is a result of God being pleased or displeased with something we are doing. Scripture says that the Lord’s favor falls on righteous and the unrighteous alike, that he raises the sun on the good and evil each day (Matt 5:45,46).
When we run our ministry under the measure of success and failure based on our perception of God’s favor; we are suggesting that we (individually, as a team, as a church) are doing something that God will reward, or God will withhold from.
There is no freedom when you are bound up measuring your ministry by success and failure. That is a worldly measurement. Instead our freedom lies in that we are adopted children of God, before we are leaders. We have His favor because He has given it to us according to His goodness, regardless of how well we run our ministry. He loves us. Plain and simple.
When we love Him, and seek to do His will…
When our eyes are set on Him, and our Hearts are in tune to His heart…
When we become His hands and feet…
We serve and we serve well, whether we are serving one woman or one thousand.
When we allow ourselves to get trapped in the success failure model, when things are going well… we feel good. We feel in God’s favor, we feel as if we are pleasing Him, we feel joy and hopeful. On the other hand, when our ministry is in a valley and we feel like a failure, then we don’t feel good at all. We feel like we have disappointed God, or that we are doing something wrong that He wouldn’t reward our work and ministry. We can even take on guilt that others are not being blessed because of our failure.
We can get so buy sharing the Gospel to others, that we can forget the Gospel is meant for us. The Freedom of the Cross is a gift for us, too. So, as much as we need to share the Gospel with others and we can do this through our ministry (in fact, it should be our primary goal)…
… we must share the Gospel with ourselves every morning.
The success or failure of my ministry work has nothing to do with God’s love for me or approval.
His love for me existed before I was in my mother’s womb, and will exist through eternity. Nothing can separate that.
Ministry work is the icing on the cake, where we celebrate the Gospel with others.