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?