For example, in my early call to ministry I wanted to be a great preacher. While this desire was rooted with holy intent and calling from God, I eventually ran into walls of manufactured energy, deep frustration, and finally jealously when the "vision" didn't transpire as I'd planned. What caused me to see a different future than the one God had for me? Two things I have encountered are ministry idolatry and approval addiction.
- Ministry idolatry- being fixed on gifts and levels of talent you wish you had more than humbly accepting the gifts and level of ability God has given.
- Approval addiction- worrying about how others perceive you, or adapting to others' expectations of you, well intended or not.
These words sounds heavy, but in fact, they are very common in the daily stuff of most people in ministry.
What's the remedy? While God works in various ways to help us overcome our idolatry and addictions (not the "evil" ones but the ones we wrap holy disguises on), two ways for me were moments of brutal honesty and seasons of personal brokenness.
- Moments of brutal honesty: When these moments occur from the right people at the right time, self-perception is purified, and primary gifts are clarified. When I work with teams, what strikes me is how possible it is for people to spend their entire life in ministry without brutal honesty. What a sad thought! Proverbs, says, "Rebuke a wise man and he will love you."
- Seasons of personal brokenness: Many times, our failures and shortcomings glue us closer to God and free us from approval needs of others. When you actually feel the gospel in a thoroughgoing way, (beyond intellectual assent) the hunger to do God's will, God's way increases. Each step of integrating the gospel in my life has taken me to a new level of freedom from "image management."
As you run toward the future, don't always assume you are running toward God's plan for your life. Discern the difference between His vision and your projection. If you are running and you trip or feel disillusioned, don't stop running. Just keep course correcting and seeking first the kingdom. And His vision will become clear.