Tonight, I had a long conversation with my friend Trevin Wax that made its way back to our calling as local church pastors. We were discussing how ministering to real people tends to help young guys, like us, learn some much needed humility and maturity.
Zeal Without Love
Of course, none of us are qualified for the ministry. It’s only God’s kindness that calls and equips us. But I think I might be worse than most, and I could prove it if you knew me.
I remember a time when I thought any accommodation was equal to compromise. I don’t mean preaching a soft Gospel. Rather, I was worried about third and fourth tier theological issues like the plurality of elders, alter calls, and the exact order of the salvation process. Other guys may have their own pet doctrines, perhaps an eschatological time line or a narrow view of the atonement. By the time I finished Bible College, my list was getting long.
I was sure that these issues were beyond debate, and I was ready to go to the mat to defend them. My zeal runneth over…
This attitude would be bad enough if I were an apologist, but when the context for ministry is the church it could get ugly fast. Yes, churches need brave pastors who will stand up for the truth. But without love, I’d only be making noise or burning without profit. (I Cor. 13:1, 3)
Who (Not What) Should We Lay Down Our Lives For?
I’m learning that ministry is more about serving God’s flock than defending my pet doctrines. Jesus never told me to die on those hills, and self-appointed martyrs don’t last long enough to feed the sheep. It’s like the other John 3:16 says:
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16 NASB)
For me, serving a real church is making difference. Fighting with other believers over non-essentials seems like childish thinking now.
Free Help For The Teachable
I’m only 30, and have only served on staff at my church for 2+ years. But I have been around seminary people for almost 10 years and know that my sins are far too common. In my case, God used experience to teach me. Maybe you can benefit from hearing my story.
Looking back, I’m certain that my heart issue was (and still is) pride. I was convinced of my own inerrancy and superiority. I’m praying that God will continue to help me replace that with humility and love for others.
Here are a few thoughts if you’ve seen yourself in this post:
- Listen to your critics, they can be your best teachers.
- Always repent of bitterness before it takes root.
- Try to think of something to affirm about people you don’t like.
- Read Ken Sande’s Peacemaker and C.J. Mahaney’s Humility