As we serve the Lord in our various capacities what is your motivation? Do we desire to be noticed? Do we want to be people who help hurting, broken people? Do we desire to be great evangelists and grow the church? Why are we doing what we are doing? All of the things mentioned above can be good motivations for doing what we do. We have a God-given desire to be loved and accepted, but that desire can be corrupted to the point where we begin to get on the performance treadmill and try to please others to get compliments. There is also a great need to minister to the hungry, destitute, depressed, and addicted – those who are experiencing various levels of brokenness. However, this can also become corrupt if we are making people our focus and not the honor and glory of God. Another good thing that can get off track is evangelism. We can witness and work hoping to grow a church. When things slow down and God calls us to walk through a dry season we can become discouraged and despondent. What is the remedy against such wrong thinking?
We must know who we are and who our God is. About his own ministry the Apostle Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 that the apostles were like men sentenced to death who had become a spectacle to the world. They had suffered hunger, were poorly dressed, and were not very impressive in the world’s eyes. He says in verse 13, “We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” While many had received life-changing transformation from the ministry of the Apostle Paul, everyone in society was not impressed. Paul cared very much about ministering to the broken around him, so much so that he rebuked the Apostle Peter to his face in front of others when Peter began to play favorites and ignore the hurting and broken. On the other hand, Paul’s motivation was the glory of God and his personal relationship with Christ. He said in Philippians 1:21 “to live is Christ.” In Galatians 2:20 he proclaims, “I have been crucified with Christ.” He identified with the glorious hope of the gospel. His life was entwined with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He exclaims in Philippians 3:13 “that I may know him and the power of His resurrection.” Paul was all about Christ. I am sure he was encouraged by kind words and compliments, but a lack of these things would not stop him from pursuing Christ and working for the advancement of His glorious kingdom.
I have adopted Paul’s philosophy of ministry and have found it to be a great remedy against discouragement and disillusionment. While I appreciate kind words and compliments I have learned that often these will cease if you make changes that move people out of their comfort zones. People, including myself, can be very fickle and changeable, but as the writer of Hebrews declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He never changes. If says He loves you, then you can know that will never change. If he makes promises (and He has made many glorious gospel promises) then He will fulfill them for you.
In closing, let us heed the admonition of the writer of Hebrews when he exhorts us in chapter 12 to keep “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Don’t merely glance at Him, but look intently at Him and rest in His love, His promises, and His provision. Doing so will keep you serving and ministering in every season – the good and bad, the up and down, the prosperous and the pitiful. After reading this, what is your answer to the question, “What is your motivation?”