The other day I heard someone refer to a situation in a church in which the minister had apparently been guilty of some kind of immoral behavior. Sometimes ministers and other church leaders have behaved in ways that completely go against what we have been called to be. In doing so, we sacrifice a very noble calling for motivations that are usually self-centered. Yet, a person can sacrifice this noble sense of call for behavior that may not be scandalous but nevertheless is wrong.
So, here are five ways to undermine your calling:
1. Practice manipulation. Don’t worry about genuine, authentic relationships, which depend upon some degree of transparency. Rather, protect your own self-interests. Manipulate. Play people off of one another. In other words, get with one key leader and convince this person that you are a real friend. That person will tell you about frustrations, disappointments, and desires. Then talk to another key leader. Likewise, convince this person that you are a real friend. Get new information from that person while using the information from the previous conversation for whatever might be in your self-interest. Continue this kind of behavior always making sure that each person believes that you are that person’s special, trusted friend.
2. Prescribe for others what they need to do while exempting yourself from your own prescription. So you talk on and on about what the church needs to do and what various ministry leaders need to do while you give yourself a pass. Those of us who behave in such a fashion often see our role as the keeper of special knowledge and insight. Meanwhile, we fail to see ourselves as persons who need correction as well.
3. Live as a people pleaser. Anyone who has served in a public type of ministry knows the temptation to yield to this pressure. Just say and do what others want to hear and see. Take no stands. Have no convictions. Desire to be liked and affirmed above all else. Tell others that you are a peacemaker when, in fact, you are just not willing to engage in any kind of conflict if it means that others will be displeased with you. The focus becomes pleasing others rather than faithfulness to the one who has called you.
If you are like so many, you will eventually lose any sense as to who you really are and what you really believe. In short, you have lost your sense of calling and your sense of self-identity.
4. Live out of your immaturity. If you do so, you may still perform well in public. You may preach well, teach a good class, or pull off a great event. Yet, in private, your behavior may spring from your insecurities and your fears. What does this look like? Perhaps you are a person who must always be right, who can’t admit fault, or who must always be in control. Perhaps your speech reflects anything but self-control and godliness. Such immature behavior might be tied to addictions that are seen in the use of Internet pornography, gambling, and/or drug/alcohol abuse.
5. Minister as one who is simply engaged in the accomplishment of church related tasks. "Ministry" then becomes just a another job. Meetings are held and conversations take place regarding the ministry while little attention is given to God. Christians may get together and talk about the church’s ministry with no one ever talking about Jesus. Compare this kind of ministry with living and ministering out of the transformed life. When my own transformation into the image of Jesus is front and center, ministry will simply be the product of such a life. The focus is on God through Jesus who is the cause and power behind such powerful transformation.
These are five ways in which a person can undermine the calling given by God. Are there others that need to be added to such a list?