Taking Your Spiritual Pulse By Questioning Your Motives
Once every couple of years or so I pull out a favorite book from my library and read it. This time it just so happens that our leadership is going through the very same book as a leadership team. The book I am referring to here is Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders. If you have never read the book, I highly recommend it. It is one of those books that I enjoy reading and then re-reading as I grow in my faith each season of my walk.
Every time I read it I can’t get past chapter 1 without taking a spiritual pulse on myself and question my motives for ministry. Sanders does such a great job of checking ambition that I read it and then reflect what my motivations are. This time was no exception. The only difference is that I am a couple of years older in life and in my walk with several new experiences under my belt, so to speak.
As I read the first chapter again this year, right from the start Sanders asks the question…
…is it not better for the position to seek out the person rather than the person seek out the position?
And, of course, I agree wholeheartedly with implications of this question. To have a position seek out a person implies that God has foreordained the position for us to walk in, and to seek out a position implies that one takes matters into their own hands to gain access to a position. Clearly the first is superior to the last.
Immediately I began to reflect on the course of this last year and how I have sensed a stronger urgency to begin preparing myself for what I believe the LORD is calling me to. So I had to check myself and ask whether or not I am motivated by self-ambition or by the Holy Spirit to continue in taking steps towards taking on the function ofÂ Â a pastor. I chuckle as I write this simply because I finally get it. For the longest time I struggled with guilt, for lack of better words, for even desiring the role. Afterall, who am I. The fact is that in my flesh I would rather just veg in front of the television, or do my own thing with my family throughout the week. I think about people who come and serve once or twice a week (if at all) Â and how easy it is not to have to be constantly compelled to give more and more of your self, your time and your energy. But an even stronger conviction comes when I don’t offer myself up to serve the LORD. And then when I am in the midst of service to God, and praying for others, helping others in ministry and teaching the WORD, there it is like life makes sense.
I have heard my wife say time and time again, “Nick you are just socially akward.” The funny thing is that before I surrendered my life to Jesus I was always the “life of the party.” I tend to agree with my wife now. It is not that I feel out of place in social settings, but my desire in social settings have changed. Now all I want to do is stop wasting time with the mundane things of life, and focus on how the Bible applies to every circumstance of life.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of a small devotional group. When we were just talking about every day things I found myself on the perimeter of the conversation, but when it came time to discuss the WORD of God, it seems as if all eyes had shifted to me and I felt the Spirit moving in me to teach and explain the WORD of God. It has been like that for me for years now. It is crazy really. I don’t have to look for opportunities, the LORD seems to just give them to me.
Another recent example is Youth Camp this year. I had no intentions of going as my function in the church had changed to seving in the childrens ministry and not the youth. I had simply intended on sending my older kids and carrying out business as usual here at home. But a couple months earlier, at a men’s retreat, I was invited to attend and even teach at the upcoming Youth Camp. I told my friend who had invited me that I would pray about it. And that is exactly what I did. I was a little strapped for funds and so I asked the LORD that if He wanted me to go, that He would make a way for me to go and provide the funds that we need. No sooner had I finished praying the phone rings and I got a new client, the amount paid to my company was more than enough for me to make it to the camp. But the LORD also told me that I would not be teaching this year, but only serving. And so I emailed the people who put on the camp and told them that whether or not they wanted me to teach, I would be there to help in any capacity that they could use me. I ended up going and I ended up again teaching the students in break out sessions as the Spirit lead. It was truly a fantastic time. I saw the LORD using me as I abandoned myself to His will. I remembered what my pastor had said about teachers who only show up for teaching engagements and then bail, or don’t attend if they are not invited to teach. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be there out of obedience and not to showcase myself. To God be the glory!
Because of my personality, the zeal that I have for the LORD and the love that I have for teaching His WORD, I can only imagine from the outside looking in, how some might think that I was one of the glory hound types. But the reality is that I am quite the opposite.Â God has always provided me with people to teach, it has been this way since I gave my life to Him. I cannot escape it, nor do I want to.
My passion is not for position but solely to please the LORD my God in whatever function He sees fit. It just so happens, and I am convinced of the fact, that the LORD is preparing me for a function I have long desired, a fulfillment of what He has placed in my soul that cannot and will not be satiated until I have given my life in the pursuit of the calling and the work of the same calling. I wasted so many years walking in my flesh, and so when I surrendered to Christ, He began a good work in me. He has been preparing me through trials and circumstances for as long as I can recall. And so my only ambition is to wait on Him and walk in the paths that He sets before me.
I love reading books, but the ones I love the most are those that cause me to lean in on God and depend on Him all the more. Books that point me back to the Scripture are the best, and certainly Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders is one such book.