Five Ways To Undermine Your Calling

arrowdownThe 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?

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10 thoughts on “Five Ways To Undermine Your Calling

  1. Amen to that, Frank.Concerning #5, and great contributor to that weakness is when we let ourselves get into the rut of reading scripture only for what we will teach, and not to be genuinely fed.  All great points, and a good (if altogether too uncomfortable) self-exam.

  2. Frank– Just been thinking about these issues for quite sometime.  I think they are worth wrestling with.  Thanks for your comment!

  3. James–Thanks for your additional thoughts to this.  You and Frank are right.  This is very uncomfortable.  I appreciate your note.

  4. NOW, you tell me.  Have had to wrestle (and get kicked upside the head) with #3–Trying to avoid conflict so avoided setting boundaries and hesitant to confront; compounded by not being crystal clear on my beliefs of non-negotiables versus opinions.  When my foul lines are unclear, tend to make inconsistent calls. Am currently revisiting my list of definites/maybes/noways. 

  5. Perhaps that’s already covered under the immaturity paragraph – but keep thinking that you are the only one who has all the answers.  After all, you’ve got the degree! The others are simply lay people – and what could they possibly add to your life. Don’t welcome them to ask you the hard-hitting questions. Maintain that air of superiority and make sure they know their place. After all they must not touch the Lord’s anointed! My next would be – Don’t keep confidences. Be sure to give a full report to your spouse what the counselee shared with you.  The spouse can help you pray for that person and share with others the detailed needs of this person.   Being in ministry I’ve been witness to such malignant behavior believe it or not. I’m sure there are more ways to undermine our ministry, but this shall suffice for now. Good topic for discussion – so often we are blind to our own faults.

  6. Jim, this is an excellent call to accountability for all of us, thanks. It made me think that we could just as easily change the title to 5 ways to undermine your calling as a disciple (in general).
    In Susek’s book Firestorm, he include a section that was so impactful to me – he discuss 4 traits that he thinks are essential to ministry. He call it TRIM, The Pastor’s Four Pillars of Strength, and it is outstanding. They are Truth, Relationship, Integrity and Mission. Susek believes that these pillars are not mere personality traits but the skills of Ministry. An essential balancing of these pillars is necessary to not only meet the inherent needs of people, but to also be equipped to prevent firestorms and to ensure that the minister is not responsible for them. He states, “God not only calls you to exercise areas in which you feel gifted, but also to develop the craft of ministering to all the needs of his people”

  7. Arlene,You are right.  This could have easily been written from the perspective of underming one’s call as a disciple in general.Firestorm sounds very interesting.  I like the "Pastor’s Four Pillars of Strength."  Very good.  I need to get this book.  I was not familiar with it.  Thanks for making me aware of this work.

  8. Karin,Very good.  What said regarding the air of superiority projected by some ministers is so important.  In particular I like these lines:…The others are simply lay people – and what could they possibly add to
    your life. Don’t welcome them to ask you the hard-hitting questions.
    Maintain that air of superiority and make sure they know their place…
    What a loss when we do not recognize that the body of Christ has something significant to contribute to our lives.  Yes–even the one with the most formal Biblical education. I also like what you said regarding confidentiality.  Thanks!

  9. Hi Eddy,Thanks for expressing some of the pain that is present in the middle of some of these issues.  The good news here is that it sounds like you are continuing to work through some of these issues.  Good for you!  I think that is where most of us are at one time or another.  Thanks!