For those of us who are in ministry, paid or volunteer, full time or part time, the question of our motivation is central to how we will carry our ministry out. Here is the question: Is our ministry about us or about God and the gospel?
Now, that may seem like a funny question to ask anyone who is giving their time and energy in ministry. But actually it is not. Paul makes the point that there are people who minister out of selfish motives. It was true then and it is true now.
Those motives may be prestige, having a large church, being the best, pulling down a decent salary, being a leader, looking for respect, or any number of personal issues that drive us. I am convinced that there are an inordinate number of people in ministry who have deep personal needs and seek to fill those needs through ministry. Ministries either breed narcissism or attract it, I am not sure which but there are a lot of folks in ministry who have a need to "be someone."
This can be true of laypeople or full time workers. When motivations are not pure, when we are trying to fill personal needs through ministry we often end up hurting people and the ministry we serve. If it is about me, we have a problem.
I love meeting pastors in the majority (poor world) because they have little or nothing to gain by being in ministry. Unlike those in the minority (wealthy) world, they cannot pull down a decent salary, they are marginalized in society and often pay a heavy price personally for what they do. They are motivated solely by the desire to please God and share the gospel.
True motivation for ministry is that of humbly serving our God, and being passionate about the sharing of the gospel - period. If that is my motivation:
- I won't care who gets the credit
- I won't need the limelight
- I will be willing to give ministry away
- I will serve rather than want to be served
- I will partner with others
- I will empower others
- I will equip others
- I won't be enamored by the indicators of success that others are enamored by
- I won't need to get my own way
I will lift others