Of all the traits necessary to be effective in ministry, I would put servanthood at the very top. Sure it’s important to be a good leader, hard worker, and skilled professional, but all that apart from a servant’s heart is in vein. That’s what makes the following battle so difficult.
Everyone’s ministry journey is different and has varied destinations, but for those that find themselves in full-time vocational ministry there is a battle that occurs. It is one of many battles and can greatly affect a minister’s effectiveness. What is that battle? It is the battle for a servant’s heart. An interesting thing can happen when a person transitions from volunteering in ministry to receiving a salary for doing ministry.
As a volunteer, a person gives of their time and energy sacrificially. They are working hard because they believe in the mission of the organization. However, once a person crosses that line and is now receiving a salary for their efforts, ironically enough, their passion and sacrifice can actually decrease. If a minister is not careful, they will start working for ‘commission’ and not for ‘the mission’. (sorry for the corny phrase – it fit!) They do just what is asked of them, rather then looking for more opportunities to serve.
Well, if you’re in full-time ministry, let me challenge you with a few thoughts from one pastor to another:
- The title ‘pastor’ and the fact that you receive a paycheck doesn’t give you an excuse to give up on the idea of being a servant.
- If you want to see those you’re leading have a servant’s heart and invest sacrificially, model it for them.
- Just because you are receiving a salary now doesn’t mean you will be receiving one tomorrow. Let that drive you to ‘work like everything depends on you, and pray like everything depends on God’.
- Constantly evaluate your heart and motives: are you there to serve or to be served?
A great book you should consider reading is The Volunteer Revolution by Bill Hybels. I found it insightful for both pastors and volunteers. It’s not a how-to or a self-help manual by any means. Rather, I found it as a tool to explain why people volunteer and the benefits of volunteering. I enjoyed your post, as always!
Thanks–There’s nothing like someone validating a pet peeve to brighten the evening! My husband and I have seen far too much of the CEO/I shouldn’t have to get my hands dirty ministry mentality. Modeling servanthood has long been our philosophy because there’s no way to get away from if you approach the issue biblically. Of course, we also have to fight to maintain a servant’s heart so thanks for the reminder.