Earlier this week, I began a brief series that I am calling "Seven Deadly Behaviors of Ministry." (You can read part one here.) These are behaviors that will greatly hamper a person’s effectiveness in ministry. Yet, the issue is greater than something pragmatic. Rather, some of these behaviors push against the kind of integrity and life that God has called upon us to experience and live.
The next two deadly behaviors:
4. Pay little attention to your own spiritual life. I first noticed this many years ago. It is possible to read books, read journal articles, listen to Christian messages, etc. about matters pertaining to the Christian faith or to the church and yet pay little attention to your own spiritual life. It is possible to be a student in seminary and read much literature about the Bible and yet rarely read the Bible itself for your own formation. (This is not a swipe at seminary. It is simply an acknowledgment of the struggle that many have experienced.)
It is critical that I pay attention to my own formation into the image of Christ. Do I intentionally practice spiritual disciplines that help cultivate my heart and life for what God wishes to do in me?
One of the dangers of serving as a minister is that it can become a "job." If I am not careful, I can find myself speaking to the church about spiritual matters that are not part of my own life. In other words, there is a real disconnect between my life and what I am teaching.
Very regularly as I prepare Sunday messages or Bible class presentations, I will reflect upon this question: "How am I doing with this truth in my own life?" Am I seriously attempting to apply this to my life?
5. Fail to love the congregation. Does the church, the congregation that I serve, sense that I love them? Or, am I forever communicating to them that they just don’t measure up? Do these people sense that I love them or do they sense that the only people I really love are those who agree with me or see things as I do? Do these people see me as a part of the church family who needs their ministry or do they see me as one who sees himself as above the church’s ministry? How do I talk about these people when they just don’t seem to "get it"? Do I speak about them with sarcasm, put-downs, and derogatory remarks, or do I speak of them with endearment, even when they may be causing me frustration or pain?
Finally, how do I speak of these people when they are not around. Do I communicate one thing to them on a Sunday morning in the assembly but speak very differently when I am with my close friends?
What would you add to these?