Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
I was serving, but deep inside, my motives were tainted.
Fresh out of college and pastoring my first church, I was eager to impress … someone … anyone. So began my journey for recognition. In addition to pastoring and teaching full-time, I directed a department in our local church association, worked on my Master's degree, and volunteered with local literary associations. To say that my plate was full is an understatement.
My efforts were cloaked under the disguise of living out my faith, but I was mostly serving self. I craved advancement in my denomination along with name recognition. To a degree, I accomplished my purpose, but "praying on the street corner" retrieved recognition only from others, not God.
Serving God with a clear conscience involves motives. He is "the God I serve with a clear conscience" (2 Timothy 1:3 NLT). Jesus warned:
Matthew 6:5 – When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. (NLT)
Jesus was hounded and surrounded by the religious elite who bragged about their accolades and revelled in their righteousness. But their motives for serving God and others were corrupted by a self-seeking attitude. They fancied acknowledgement, praise, and rewards from others. And others gave it, but God didn't.
Why we do something is as important as what we do. Our acts of service may benefit others, but God peeks beneath the veneer, examines our motives, and judges accordingly. Amount given doesn't necessarily equal credit received in God's book of records. Our giving and service should emerge from appreciation for what God has done for us. When it does, our service will be more enjoyable, the inner turmoil will vanish, and God will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Are you serving with sincerity?
Prayer: Blessed Lord, we acknowledge that we are all we are because of Your grace. Paint our service to others with sincerity so that we might enjoy Your earthly and heavenly rewards and accurately reflect Your love to others. Amen.
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I made the same mistake.
Martin I love your honesty.
Thank you Martin. A good one, as always.
Great message Martin!
It is an ever present temptation for those of us in ministry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Truly it is all about what God has done for us.
That is the starting point. Amen.
Thanks for the devotional Martin. I must say though that on that score my conscience is clear because I always keep in my prayers the concerns of the pastors and clergy who more often than not have very hard rows to hoe. Thank God you seem to have ridden out that storm.
You are being a bit hard on yourself, Martin.
The research indicates that most mainline protestant male clergy come out of seminary still working on resolution of narcissism – i.e without a fully formed sense of self – hence the need to win approval from others by our “doing.” It takes a lifetime to learn how just to “be” – be in relationship with our self; be in relationship with spouse and family; be in relationship with our congregation; be in relationship with clergy colleagues; and most important be in relationship with God.
Such is our fallen nature. We want to be appreciated. We want to be loved.
The good news is: we are loved, even for who we are.
The following thought helps me keep real or keep quiet:
messing with God’s purposes, His anointed people, His holiness and….doing things “in His name” as a bright idea may be a dangerous and precarious business! (cf Aaron’s son’s – not forgetting Ananias And Sapphira etc.)
However, I don’t think you need to worry. It is gooood too!
On the other hand, Elijah and Peter had a really blessed – if humbling – experience of God’s power working within and through them because they took His Name and calling seriously.
I enjoyed your devotional and I thank you for being so brutally honest! Quite a few years ago I wrote something along these lines that I will share with you and has a title of: What IS Your Motive?
Why do you teach?
Why do you give money to the church?
Why do you clean the church building
Why do you sing
Why do you play the piano or organ?
Why do you do the administrative work in the church?
Why are you on the Church Council?
Why are you the custodian?
Why are you a Pastor?
Why do you desire to know more?
Why do you go to church?
Why do you want to pray for others?
Do we serve our own interests or do we serve God?
God bless you.
Thank you for your devotional. Your closing prayer is particularly significant. I am going to a meeting of our church’s Congregational Care Team, and that prayer fits perfectly. God does move in mysterious ways.
Wow , Martin you just hit the ail on the head for me. I have been dealing with such feelings lately. I am not sure if the enemy has been trying to make me doubt my motivation in writing a book for God’s glory by saying I am only doing it for personal acclaim. Every time I get a positive comment on a devotional and feel like I’d love to share it I get the same attack. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish the source of the comment. However, I think if it brings condemnation it is always from the enemy,
Thanks for this challenging devotional.