So, I was on a run yesterday morning after having just read 1 Corinthians 13 often called the great love chapter. I was pondering my own varying motives in ministry efforts. At times, ministry is driven by the unmet emotional needs of the one doing the ministry. I know you may find that shocking! Some people in ministry are seeking to feel accepted, affirmed, some need to be in control, some need recognition. Those needs unmet can become the fuel of ministry.
It would be nice if everything I’ve ever attempted to do for the Lord was driven purely by His love for me and others but that isn’t the case. So, I was analyzing is there any way I can test myself, you know like a “gut check,” to see what is fueling my efforts.
Here is what I came up with. Picture a scale: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. The scale represents my emotional reaction to how people respond to my ministry efforts. I will call numbers 4-6 the green zone, stable, healthy emotional responses. Number 1 represents depression and number 9 elation. I’m calling 1-3 and 7-9 the red zones. Here is my theory! When someone receives me, affirms me and my emotional level surges into the upper red zone, or when someone rejects my efforts and my mood dips into the lower red zone, the effort was more to meet my own emotional needs than the person I’m serving. If I am acting and serving out of a healthy motive of God’s love flowing through me, the response of the person has little impact on me, my emotional stability will remain in the green zone. That is how Christ stayed calm and content even while being beaten and rejected. He wasn’t doing what He did to meet some need within Himself.
There were many Monday’s as a pastor that receiving the attendance and offering numbers from the day before could put me in the red zone on either side of the spectrum. That isn’t the picture of emotional health. Those numbers at times were almost an affirmation or indictment of me as a person. That is not a good way to live.
This is all new and I haven’t worked all the bugs out of my theory yet but it is a good start. I must ask myself, is my emotional state based more on my connection to God and His acceptance of me or is it tied too much to how others respond or react to me? Answering that gives me insights as to what my true motivation really is.