Gifted For His Mission And Not Your Ambition
The secret to ministering with passion
As I woke up Friday morning to prepare to preach on Sunday, I was feeling very deflated for the task. I attempted under my breath a semi-hearted prayer to God expressing my lack of desire to preach this coming Sunday.
The excuses I began to formulate included the following: maybe it was just a boring text; maybe I hadn’t actually understood it sufficiently to feel like I was bringing adequate food for our people; maybe the following week’s text would be better and I would be really into it and wanting to preach that.
Feeling very despondent with the state of my heart and mind as I was thinking of Sunday, I decided to get up out of bed and go to my knees in prayer to wrestle this out with God. Because I felt in many ways as if here I was preparing to preach something that hadn’t gotten a hold of my heart.
“How can I do justice to the word of God in proclamation if I haven’t allowed it to move my heart in adoration!?!” — Click to Tweet
So there I was on my knees, even though I had already studied and expounded the text into a message for Sunday, I needed to go back to it; not with a posture of a pastor going through the motions of preaching prep for Sunday readiness, but with a posture of a desperate child desirous to worship His God.
I began with meditative prayer over the text, asking God to make it come alive in my heart so that I could truly worship Him for what He has revealed in His word. Soon, it became evident to me, that the reason why I lacked passion to preach this text was because it seemed to me that it was empty of what I perceived would achieve my ambition.
Like many pastors, serving through a new dispensation of ministry in these current challenges, I have certain desires and longings for what I want to see happen in the hearts and lives of this generation for the glory of God. I want our church to look a specific way; want our people to be doing specific things unto the Lord; the finances to pick up; attendance to gain momentum; etc.
Now of course, in my heart and mind, all this is justified as unto the glory of God. After all, if none of this stuff happens or gathers momentum, can the church really be thriving for the sake of the Gospel!?!
And yet, as I justified all this to myself, I couldn’t help but sense the discontentment that lay underneath all that towards my own ministry. Simply put, I was not satisfied in the kind of ministry I’m doing, because it felt like it was lacking the needed X-factor to achieve my ambition.
If only I was more articulate like other preachers; a better evangelist; on mission more; had a silver-bullet strategy for future growth; etc. I covet these things so that my ambitions in ministry would be achieve!
That’s when it hit me: my lack of passion to preach this Sunday was because I had judge the message inadequate to achieve my ambitions. And there came the Holy Spirit’s gentle and convicting rebuke: it’s about God’s mission rather than your ambition!
As I began to think about the mission of God and realise how God had uniquely gifted me to contribute in it, as taught in The Parable of the Talents, I began to see afresh the connection between our passion and ministry.
God has not gifted us for our ambitions — meaning, that the talents He has entrusted us with should be used to advance our ministry ambitions. No! God has gifted us for His mission, so that we would serve the advancement of His Kingdom equipped with the strength and power that He Himself provides.
“Therefore, you are gifted for His mission and not your ambition. Passion in ministry flows as you focus on being faithful to His mission, with the gifts He has provided.” — Click to Tweet
And so, I don’t have to covet the gifts others have to feel far more effective in God’s mission. Such coveting is a passion-killer because you’ll cease to see what God is wanting to do in and through you, from where He has currently positioned you, and with what He has equipped you with to serve His mission.
As a Bible teacher, God has positioned me to open up His word and explain it in such a way that leads His people to render their hearts in pursuit of Christ. Focusing on that mission is what will fuel my passion for the text and to feed God’s people with it faithfully, more than any other ambition I may have for the future of the church or my ministry — no matter how justified that ambition seems!
So, as ministers of the Gospel, we’ve got to be asking ourselves: what are we more passionate for? Is it His mission or our ambition?
Wherever your passion may lie at this moment, remember: you have been gifted for His mission and not your ambition!