In recent posts, I have written about God’s servants feeling used and unappreciated, experiencing undeserved disrespect and resentment, and having hidden greed—a desire to be rewarded.
From these very real and common perils, there emerge at least three timely lessons for all of us pastors to remember.
Lesson one: no servant of God is completely safe. A tough truth to accept! We who give and give become increasingly more vulnerable as time passes (read John 15:20). Truth be told, there are times we’ll get ripped off. We will be
used . . . even misused. We will feel unappreciated. But realizing ahead of time this will happen, we are better equipped to handle it when it comes. The proper perspective will guard us against stumbling into peril. Lean hard on the Master when you serve others.
Lesson two: most of our deeds will be initially unrewarded. That’s a basic axiom we must live with and accept (read Hebrews 6:10). If you are the type of minister who needs a lot of strokes from people, who has to be appreciated before you can continue very long, you’d better reexamine your motives. More often than not, you will be overlooked, passed up, placed behind the scenes, and remain virtually unknown. Your reward will not come from without but from within. Not from people but from the satisfaction God gives you down inside.
Much of the ministry requires this mentality. We pastors may stand at the door of the church following our sermons and shake hands with the flock as everybody says nice things about us (my friend Howard Hendricks calls this “the glorification of the worm,” a description I certainly agree with). But in reality, if we preach for those few moments of flattery—and most of us don’t—we are in the wrong business.
Lesson three: all motives must be honestly searched. Before jumping to a conclusion or making a decision, think to ask yourself why (read Acts 24:16). Before accepting any tangible gifts of gratitude (and there are occasions when such is perfectly acceptable), probe into your reason for doing so.
Let’s continually check our motives, fellow servant.