In his book Ministry in the Image of God, Stephen Seamands tells the story of Jack Frost (yes, that is his real name). In former years, he was addicted to drugs, alcohol and pornography. After he gave his life to Christ, he continued to struggle with a serious fear of failure that fueled an "aggressive striving." Frost, in looking back at those years said, "It seemed to be perfectly natural to express my love for God by building my identity through hyper-religious activity. Many of the Christians around me seemed to think the same way" (Jack Frost, Experiencing the Father’s Embrace, pp. 4-5).
Jack Frost became a minister. He writes about the impact of his past on his life in a ministry role:
My childhood filter system for earning love and acceptance translated ministry into an aggressive zeal to win souls and build the fastest growing church in our denominational district.
I wanted to look good to everybody. But underneath the veneer of success, I was an unhappy man with a miserable family. My commitment to "the ministry" was far greater than my commitment to my wife, my children or any other loving relationships. When I was at home, I was irritable and impossible to get along with. Everything I did was tainted with passive anger.
My countenance became stern and serious, and my preaching became legalistic and demanding…. I knew the theology of God’s love, but I had not experienced it in my relationships. (Frost, pp. 5-6)
When I first read these lines, I thought about how valuable these thoughts are for anyone who is in ministry. Not so. I think any of us would do well to think about his reflections. What is it that drives me? What are my motivations? What is there inside of me that makes me want to look good, competent, successful, strong, together, etc.? Does this connect with you?
(To read more about Frost’s story, see Stephen Seamand’s Ministry in the Image of God, pp. 53-56.)