Balanced Life

Christian Service: How to Avoid the Biggest Source of Failure

Christian Service Failure

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pastor, teacher, parent, lay person, minister, or a volunteer. If you’re a faithful Christian trying to live out God’s call on your life, there’s a very real danger lurking and ready to destroy your Christian service.

It’s not a lack of experience. It’s not adultery. It’s not greed. It’s not anger and hatred. Or rather, it doesn’t start there.

Failure in Christian service – from mere ineffectiveness to horrid disqualifying sins – begins much more subtly. A simple failure to manage time is often the culprit that starts the ministry-ruining ball rolling.

Danger of Neglect

Last night, one of my good friends was ordained as a pastor. Our senior pastor preached a charge to him based on 1 Timothy 4.

It reminded me of a sermon I had read entitled The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister, also based on the same chapter.

1 Timothy 4:15-16
15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16  Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The greatest danger in Christian service is neglect of our relationship with God. It starts with what we believe to be a temporary period of busyness, but the busy schedule just never stops.

Paul’s instruction to Timothy was to keep a close watch on himself. To immerse himself in teaching. Never stop being a student of scripture. Never stop growing in godliness.

And Paul practiced what he preached: in 2 Timothy 4:13, we see him requesting that “the parchments” be brought to him by visitors.

Cause of Neglect

What would cause a Christian to cool off in their spiritual walk? Why does the growth in godliness, centered particularly on reading the scriptures, slow down or even stop altogether?

Because of limited time.

Our limited time forces us to prioritize – and we let working for God crowd out our own personal spiritual growth. Ironically enough, a misguided view of selfless Christian service is to blame.

There’s always so much to do, and it may initially seem selfish to put our spiritual growth ahead of the wellbeing of others.

But Paul reminds us that attention to our growth is how we “save both yourself and your hearers.” We need to constantly be pouring into our own well so that we can pour ourselves out to others.

Caring for the Hen

Christian service ends up being more about who we are than what we do. If we focus on growing in godliness – focus on who we are – then right living will naturally come as a result of that.

Attending to our own spiritual state is more than simply putting gas in our tank. It’s more than supplying us with fuel.

It’s more like taking care of the hen instead of only collecting the eggs. It’s a long-term view towards true effectiveness.

So take some time to examine who you are in God’s eyes – and if you need to re-evaluate how you’re immersing yourself in the things of God.

Photo Credit: Iryna Yeroshko

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